Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Like Clint at 1100 Broadway

Posted By on Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 5:33 AM

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The news that Clint Brewer will become political editor of The Tennessean triggered a comment thread over at Post Politics on media bias in local journalism generally and at 1100 Broadway specifically. Perhaps some think that Brewer and his neckwear signal a new day of ideological conservatism at the no-longer-all-that-liberal-if-you're-actually-paying-attention Tennessean.

On the subject of press bias and the ideology of reporters and editors, NYU journalism professor and media oracle Jay Rosen put up a thoughtful post at his PressThink blog just the other day. Rosen contends that the reality of press ideology is not as obvious as many think.

The left says: Look, it’s very simple. The political press ultimately serves the interests of the people who own it — the corporate capitalists, the ones with money and power and “access” to politicians, the people who run things and always have. ... The right says: Look, it’s very simple. Press coverage reflects the bias of the people who produce it — and they’re liberals! ... Look, it’s very simple, our journalists say. The press isn’t on the side of the left or the right. Of course, journalists are human. They have passions, they have interests, they have opinions. But these are irrelevant to the way they define and do their job, which is to find out what’s happening and tell the world about it. ...

In the puny camp that I’m a part of the first sentence is: This is complicated…

Rosen's argument is pretty detailed but worth a read by serious newshounds. He arrives at conclusions about the forces that actually bias the press that are a lot less straightforward than the bipolarity of liberal and conservative, but make a lot more sense.

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