[FoRK] Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right: On the Actual Ideology of the American Press

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Jun 21 12:07:51 PDT 2010

On 6/18/10 5:51 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> Excellent.
> http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2010/06/14/ideology_press.html 

These are excellent. Many have been obvious but needed crystallizing. 
This one I have been acutely aware of both in the tech and mainstream media:

> 5. He said, she said journalism, 
> <http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2009/04/12/hesaid_shesaid.html> 
> a formation I have been trying to bust up by pushing for more fact 
> checking 
> <http://jayrosen.posterous.com/david-gregory-no-i-wont-fact-check-my-guests>.
>     “He said, she said” journalism means…
>     - There’s a public dispute.
>     - The dispute makes news.
>     - No real attempt is made to assess clashing truth claims in the
>     story, even though they are in some sense the reason for the
>     story. (Under the “conflict makes news” test.)
>     - The means for assessment do exist, so it’s possible to exert a
>     factual check on some of the claims, but for whatever reason the
>     report declines to make use of them.
>     - The symmetry of two sides making opposite claims puts the
>     reporter in the middle between polarized extremes.
>     When these five conditions are met, the genre is in gear.

For instance, all of those years that GNU tools (gcc, gdb, emacs, etc.) 
were studiously ignored while they were being used more and more in 
corporate and educational settings. The stark absence was peculiar and 
smelled of some kind of active exclusion to the benefit of advertisers 
(Microsoft et al).

It would be great to have a meta-system where people could fairly rate 
and rank every published article according to these kinds of metrics. A 
Wikipedia-style consensus should be able to emerge most of the time.

> -- 
> One side thought that occurs to me as I read this, neatly weaving 
> together a couple of recent strands... Even within the mainstream 
> polity, among self-identified "progressives," what is reflected is a 
> kind of "ignorant" or myopic cosmopolitanism, though perhaps absent 
> the stasis bias the author mention.
> The urbs by and large are laboring under the illusion that they 
> possess a far greater degree of self-sufficiency than is actually the 
> case. Everything ex urb is viewed as a kind of economic raw material 
> rather than an economic ecosystem in its own right. Rather amusingly, 
> the urb-ex urb dependency is asymmetric and counter to what might seem 
> de facto intuitive to the urbs.

Absolutely, most people live in their little bubbles of reality with no 
real clue outside of that. Really good movies help a lot however, if 
people choose them. Somehow, certain recent movies are using techniques 
that give this flavor of life much better than most movies from the past.

> I note, for example, the lack of understanding of the tool-utility, 
> even necessity, of gun ownership on the part of ex urbs among chronic 
> anti-gun urbanites. Nothing like a 12 guage for killing rattlesnakes 
> at a safe distance.


> This also illustrates another point I've made from time to time: law 
> is often best served locally.

Perhaps a useful generalization: Reality is best served locally. Certain 
things, civil liberties mostly along with science completely, generalize 
up and then flow back down. Details outside of that are locally colored 
and don't always translate laterally.

> These insights, perhaps, have significant analytical utility...
> jb


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