Time was, most every newspaper or magazine had an explicit slant. No one thought it strange that one paper promoted the point of view of one political party while a competing newspaper promulgated the views of their opponents. And then it was decided that journalists are really supposed to be neutral. Except of course I don’t really think they can be. It seems to me that a reporter’s or a publication’s bias inevitably influences all reporting. That a journalist claims to be “fair and balanced” is a huge red flag to me. I would much sooner read a report by a journalist who openly supports my political opponents over one who claimed to have no horse in the race.
Some of the worst journalism that I see, browsing as I do many different newspapers are a feature called “fact checker” which purports to drill down to the real truth behind a claim some politician or other has made. The statement is then rated on a scale of one to four Pinnochios (referring to a fictional character whose nose grew longer whenever he lied) to help readers judge the “truthieness” (damn you Jon Stewart) of what was said. While the syndicate that produces this feature talks a lot about truth and facts, the fact is the feature is hardly unbiased, from it’s selection of what political claims to investigate to the manner in which each claim is held to scrutiny. Yesterday in the Houston Chronicle I even saw a very similar feature that used a gas gauge icon to evaluate Newt Gingrich’s #250gas public relations twitter campaign. They concluded correctly that the bloviator is per usual running on empty, but their analysis was a mess.
I commented on Facbook yesterday, quoting Pontius Pilate (“But what is truth, is truth unchanging law? We both have truths are mine the same as yours?”) and indeed truth seems to me an ephemeral and deeply personal thing. There are facts, as may be proven in a court of law, but even there they do not presume to find the truth, they seek only justice which may in fact be more readily quantified and obtained. It seems to me if some talented people with resources behind them set out to create a new publication that attempted to have a real slant, a definite point of view and a strong sense of looking for the truth, there might be a huge market for it among those of use who read a great many newspapers, but find very little truth in the he-said, she said “objective reporting”. Heck, if someone gave me that I might find it worth paying ten bucks a month for.