WISE MEN TALK BECAUSE THEY HAVE
SOMETHING TO SAY ... FOOLS, BECAUSE
THEY HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING.
Plato's quote is a guide for these blogs. I leave it to the reader to decide which applies.
"No, we don't sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we're going to slant the news. We don't have to. It comes naturally to most reporters."
Former CBS News Correspondent Bernard Goldberg
That excerpt from a 1996 article Goldberg wrote for the Wall Street Journal.
It ended his CBS career .. but also was the foundation for his book: Bias.
Here's an insider claiming that the news is slanted .. and that view is a common perception among news audiences.
I will not issue a blanket denial. I have seen cases where a story was "slanted" .. and by that I mean ... a reporter/editor ignoring facts and balance .. with the express purpose of presenting one view .. to the detriment of the other side.
How often does this happen? To answer with an analogy ... those "slanted" stories that I have witnessed might be measured as only a few seconds within the 40 years that I have been in broadcasting.
Now, journalists do chose angles for a story. If they do it in a fair and balanced approach ... that is not the same as slanting.
In fact ... there are numerous decisions made before a story gets on the air .. decisions that some could interpret as slanting.
Let me take you through the process of developing a story.
First, a tv newsroom has to decide .. are we going to cover this story? If the newsroom doesn't cover it .. some will say .. well, you are slanting your coverage because you are ignoring a story I think should be told The news operation is already under attack, and it's just in the beginning stages of a story.
So, the newsroom decides to cover the story. Next .. who will be sent: the best reporter ... the best photographer? Once on the scene .. who gets interviewed .. which pictures get recorded? Back at the station ... which parts of the interview will be used? Which pictures?
Meanwhile, a decision is being made where to play the story. The early news? The late news? Does it get played on more than one newscast? Where in the news does it get played?
You can see .. there are numerous decisions that need to be made. If done in a fair and balanced fashion ... these are legitimate decisions ... with no malice .. no intent to distort nor show bias .. nothing close to slanting the news.
Still, when a controversial story airs .. there will be those convinced that the news was slanted. They hold to that belief ... and will not be shaken. Before we ever air some subjects .. we know that we are going to be criticized by one side or the other. What kind of subjects create such a firestorm? Two subjects that always meet this test: abortion .. gun control.
A Gallup Poll found that Americans rate the trustworthiness of journalists at about the level of politicians and as only slightly more credible than used-car salesmen. (My apologies to my friends who are used-car salesmen.)
A 2002 Harris Poll ... found that even in the face of Enron and WorldCom financial disasters ... even accountants scored higher on trust compared to journalists. Author Timothy w. Maier (Insight on the News / May 11, 2004)wrote: the same survey found Americans trusted clergy, teachers, doctors, police officers and the President .. while those at the bottom of the trust list were Congressional members, corporate leaders and journalists.
And I thought all these years that I was in an honorable profession.
I will tell you that I also have complaints of slanted coverage. I think that I do a fairly decent job .. day in and day out ... but sometimes to read tv critics .. I shouldn't even be allowed in a newsroom .. and certainly not on the air.
I could complain ... but there is a basic fact that I recognize .. and it is something that those who constantly accuse journalists of slanting .. should also recognize.
Those writing and reporting on us ... are most often ... not our public relations agency.
If you have a question or complaint about how/why certain news stories are covered .. please contact me.