Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fair and Balanced, Left vs. Right

I can't deny it. There is no such thing as objective journalism.

If you're one of the growing numbers of people who turn their noses up at the graying, corporate-bound and moribund "mainstream" media, I present to you opportunities for insight from two e-sources, the leftist viewpoint from People's Weekly World and the right's Sweetness & Light. When used together, the pair will no doubt serve readers more than a baker's dozen of traditional news outlets.

You'll find both links to the right of the blog in my links section.

Neither e-publication makes false claims about being objective, balanced, fair or accurate. The PWW clearly lays out its bias, "We take sides... Yours! Working class news and opinion since 1924" It is the press organ for the Communist Party USA.

Now, Sweetness & Light is a bit more murky. It is a "Weblog featuring US and international news and analysis from a conservative perspective." There's no contact information. The domain name is registered to Domains by Proxy, Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz.

I know what you're thinking. S&L and PWW aren't legitimate news sources. Well, neither are SNL, The View, Oprah, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Comedy Channel, The Dave Letterman Show, Vanity Fair, Air America or Rush Limbaugh's EIB network. However, all those media outlets have shaped political discourse and opinion this year and in the past.

Journalists can't agree on exactly what a journalist is. The members of the Society of Professional Journalists studied and debated a proposed code of ethics for months before one was approved at its national convention in 1996. It calls for accountability, fairness, not paying for news, disclosure of sources whenever feasible and much more.

However, the Society will not enforce the code against any of its members and lacks control over other journalists outside its ranks. The code is totally voluntary, which means it is a pipe dream. The code is passed around in news rooms and journalism schools. Sometimes one can find it in a nice frame on a wall. I have a nice, framable copy that was presented to me in journalism school.

When you watch coverage of election-night festivities in downtown Chicago Nov. 4, know FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC and a whole slew of print-media giants paid the Obama-Biden campaign for prime access to major players. The media also paid extra for assigned places on risers offering a better view. The campaign is charging a $900 parking fee per satelite truck payable in advance. I have no idea if the McCain-Palin campaign plans anything similar.

It is not ethical to pay for access to news sources no matter how any campaign justifies it. It instantly delegitimizes and undermines any newsgathering operation willing to pay and play.

There's still journalists out there who haven't sold out to either side--or anyone. They must feel outnumbered and impotent right now.

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