Word by word

Here’s the transcript of my Newshour appearance last night on journalistic objectivity. I tried to capture the video to embed but it was of too poor quality. Not that you’d see anything but talking heads. Though mine was well-coiffed, I thought.

  • Yes, you looked good. The contrast between you and Callie Crossley was a little bizarre, though…

    I think you were a bit too optimistic about American viewers/readers. Remember H. L. Mencken – “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Not to be too cynical, but anybody who works in advertising knows this. Let me give you three additional words: “Lather – Rinse – Repeat.”

    It’s possible, Jeff, that you’ve spent too much time hobnobbing with your brother wizards. Let me assure you, from ‘out here in the sticks,’ that there are plenty of people who think that Limbaugh, Hannity, Dobbs, O’Reilly et-al, really ARE journalists. They ALSO think that Dubya is ‘doing the right thing,’ that Iraq should be turned into a PARKING LOT and that getting rid of all the immigrants will open up tons of jobs for Americans…never mind that most of those jobs involved harvesting fruit or vegetables, or cleaning houses…or possibly working at a fast-food restaurant in some of the more upscale of these job ‘opportunities’…

    The predominant vehicle in my town is the pickup truck, followed closely by the SUV. We’re paying about $3.50/gallon at the pump these days and these people stubbornly hang onto their monster gas-suckers simply to keep up appearances and their eye-level parallel to the height of the traffic lights. 85% of them don’t grasp the purpose of a turn-signal, they did NOT vote a local tax levy through to keep our public library system open (it’s still closed), and as many of them as have a dog in the bed of the pickup will often have their kids back there otherwise, and sometimes both. Once you get out of town the roadsigns are usually riddled with bullet holes and the predominant illegal drug of choice in my region is methamphetimine, which is the rough equivalent of the absinthe of Van Gogh’s era, in terms of its deleterious effects on the human body.

    I appreciate your sentiment in believing that most Americans are capable of distinguishing fact from opinion…but I have a feeling you might not have an accurate grasp of the actual statistical breakdown on that ratio…

  • Paul Loring

    I was watching from Perth Western Australia. Like Tansley I have equal concerns about most Australians ability to distinquish fact from opinion.

    News is dominated by TV coverage and much of the news comes from just one or two sources, with dubious bias at the owner level. The few seconds given to each topic, is hardly an ideal example of journalism, where few in depth questions get raised or answered, and the supposed journalist role is merely to hold a mike or tape!

    This raises the question about what is journalism these days? Juniors of the past got the role of reporting the local, often trivial and mundane, but in doing so they learnt about reporting the facts and assembling them in some sequence of significance, now they just roll the tape or video.

    Then there are the commentators, often specialising in a narrower topic range, and supposedly having some expertise in the subject matter, so not an unbiased contribution. Hence obvious conflict between the facts, their own bias, knowledge level and assessment capability.

    Opinion leaders are these day a more explicit role, but it still very difficult to sort out fact from their opinion.

    Investigative Journalism, seems to be a dying breed, as the owners don’t want to publish their findings.

    This is all made more complex and often muddies the waters as, everyone sources their material from everyone else. It is getting increasingly difficult to find original material. This adds to the problem of fact, opinion and even now is it the opinion of the originator, or the the subsequent chain of copyists, plagarism is rife?

    So I believe there is a strong need for supposed journalists to much clearer about the actual journalsit hat they are wearing, what is fact and its source, and what is opinion and its source. Stand up and be counted. Revert to professionalism, guts, standards and quality.

    Hope Callie Crossley is also reading this.

  • creighton boike


    I was once a Jouranlist for about 12 years and got out from the corporate structuring and the wash of it on local levels. Here in Grand Rapids Michigan we have a real rag, a Newhouse paper that is packaged nice but does not dig and does not essay.

    I enjoyed your discussion regarding Jounalism and view your stance that objectivity is mirage kept by Observors that truly don’t own their own filters (subjectivity) in the name of their job….Journalism is a sad, sad state these days and outside the St. Pete’s Times and a few others, well; it’s mostly advertising bullshit with he said/she said formats that are built on current power structures.

    Thanks for your observations. It’s going to be interesting to watch the evolution of J in the days ahead…..

    I spent some time this past year digging into what went wrong with Journalism re the War. Came to the conclusion that we truly don’t have much of a “free press” but instead have a commercial press that stays politically correct to keep its business power structure.



  • For Creighton Boike: EXACTLY. The ‘Free Press’ is about as ‘Free’ as our so-called ‘democracy,’ which is actually an oligarchic plutocracy – rule by the wealthy few. The REAL way to vote these days, in this country, is not at the ballot box or the voting booth, but with a call to your stockbroker re: your investment portfolio…

  • Greg0658

    Agree a lot of purporting going on as opposed to reporting.
    Agree that it is more effective to vote with your wallet.