Friday, April 29, 2005

Two Medias: Check out these two stories from Washington, DC's rival newspapers.

Washington Post: Report Finds No Evidence Syria Hid Iraqi Arms

Washington Times: CIA can't rule out WMD move to Syria

Two stories on the same subject, the very same report even. Two different conclusions.

I like both newspapers. The Post is by far the better paper, but both do a good job reporting the news and finding items the other missed. However, they both let their biases show every once in awhile. In this case The Post gets closest to the truth. There is no solid evidence, just a lot of circumstantial stuff. Still, it's inconclusive and hasn't been ruled out yet (but it seems more and more unlikely, which pretty much kills a theory I have been arguing for awhile to explain the absence of WMD in Iraq).

The sad part is I know so many people who refuse to read one or the other newspaper. Conservatives consider The Post to be a communist-liberal-antiAmerican rag. Liberals see the WashTimes as a right-wing mouthpiece for the Bush administration. Neither of which is true.

But as American politics becomes more polarized, so too is American media. People who align with Red and Blue states are also aligning themselves with conservative and liberal news outlets. Blues read The New York Times and listen to NPR. Reds watch Fox News and listen to Rush Limbaugh.

But as you can see from above, these people are only getting half the story. And as a news outlet's audience becomes more polarized and extreme, the news coverage will begin to slant even more to meet the expectations of the customer base. This means that media outlets are in danger of becoming more and more partisan as this trend continues.

Pundits have become too predictable. And the predictability has been creeping into straight news.

Now, I've been arguing for some time that journalists aren't biased in the way Rush describes them, secretly wanting to make Democrats/Republicans look good and the other side look bad, and intentionally slanting their articles and broadcasts to achieve these ends. Most journalists I know desperately want to relay the truth fairly and accurately. The trouble is most mainstream papers and networks are dominated by liberals, creating an echo-chamber effect. Then Fox and WashTimes come along and move too far to the right, losing credibility in the process.

Years ago, people tended to receive their news from one source (ie, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so."). You can't do that anymore. And with the technology growth we've seen, there's no excuse to rely on one outlet for news. It may be hard for you partisans, but force yourself to do diversify. I've got a list of a variety of news outlets in the sidebar. Try visiting some blogs at the top of the list then from the bottom of the list for different points of view. Do the same with the news sources. You may just learn something.


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