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A rant on fairness, credibility and bias in journalism

1 Nov

I disagree with a lot of what The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf (the author of the quote on the sign that got Caitlin Curren fired from her WNYC job) says in his political posts, but this commentary is spot on.

That ought to be the pitch that newspapers and public radio stations make to their audience. It might go something like this: “Yes, the field of journalism attracts more liberals than conservatives, more Occupy Wall Street participants than Tea Party ralliers, more urban dwellers than rural Americans, more college graduates than people without degrees, more Democrats than Republicans, more English majors than math majors, more secular people than religious people — and although we value diversity of thought, experience and world view on our staff, the core of our value proposition is that we’re accurate in our reporting, fair-minded in setting forth arguments and perspectives even when we don’t agree with them, transparent about who we are, attune to our biases and constantly trying to account for them, and insistent that we be judged by our output, not our political or religious or ideological identity, or what we do on weekends. Judge us by our work, and if you challenge it in good faith we’ll engage you.”

[Read the rest of his piece here, it's excellent.]

Journalists are the most widely informed people around because it’s in the job description. So when journalists as a rule coalesce around an idea, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right, but there’s a good chance that it is (there’s no excuse for pack reporting though… that’s laziness), assuming that the reporters are doing their homework. And I’ll bet that they are.

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