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The “wall” that nobody ever wanted is about to be torn down, and opinions will be reunited with facts 10/2/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Bias, Wall.

When we visit a doctor, lawyer, or other professional, do we say, “look, I can figure things out for myself, so I don’t want to hear your opinions, just the facts”? No, because their advice is valuable — they have more knowledge and experience than the rest of us, and we lack the time, talent, or interest in learning their professions. But in the topsy-turvy world of modern journalism, this is exactly how we are to relate to journalists. Like monks who are disciplined not to talk, it’s as if journalists are disciplined not to think – or at least not enough to have an opinion. And that leaves us on our own, presumably so we can spend our days doing what none of us chose to do in our lives – becoming experts in the complex arenas of domestic and foreign affairs.

Truth be told, this silly model invented by modern journalism founder Walter Lippmann was never really upheld by journalists anyway. Each time they select a news story and angle, we get a pretty good sense of their biases based on what they think is important and who they think are the good guys and bad guys. Their promises to segregate opinions onto editorial pages were never kept either. Respected journalist Tom Rosenstiel conducted a study showing that 50% of front page NY Times, Washington Post, and LA Times stories were “not straight news stories” but were “interpretative, analytical stories of some type or another.”

So the future belongs to those media that blend fact with opinion, and who let readers with compatible worldviews find them. Hmmm…isn’t that what blogs do?


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