Sunday, June 23, 2002

Fair but Unbalanced?-Michael Kinsley had a too-cute piece on TV anchors and George S. taking over This Week, but this closing paragraph was interesting
{I]t would not be so terrible if Stephanopoulos and This Week were overtly biased, or the other TV news anchorhoods as well. The TV news anchor I find myself watching most is Brit Hume of Fox News. He brims with bias, and it's a bias I don't share. But his freedom to be biased is also freedom to be intelligent. You get the news as filtered through an interesting mind.
He could be talking about bloggers, for the essence of blogging (or any good punditry) is having the news processed by interesting minds. If the pundit is honest about his biases and gives the other side their due when they have a point, you can have a biased but effective writer. While Kinsley will rip Fox for falling short of its "fair and balanced" motto, CNN and the major networks aren't exactly getting it on plumb either. If a biased reporter gives enough of the other side for the audience to make an informed decision, then they have done their job as a reporter. However, many of the conventional outlets will tend to give the liberal side of most stories more airtime. The standard Network Investigative Template is designed to give the afflicted party wanting big government more air-time than the foes of big government. Many issues don't have a true anti-X side but have opponents that wonder whether the costs of the law to promote X are worth it. Not too many people are anti-environment or pro-racism or pro-poverty or pro-unsafe products. However, it is hard to articulate the costs of a law within the standard newspiece. Most pieces will dwell on the injured party and have a "There oughta be a law!" tone to them; by the nature of the template, they don't take the time to look at the downsides.

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