Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whose Fault Is It?

It’s the Media, of Course.

Finally, someone has pointed the finger of blame for the economic issues facing the nation. It’s a wonder President Obama didn’t mention it last night. Who do you blame? Blame the media, of course.

A Rasmussen poll released today says, “Fifty-five percent (55%) of U.S. voters believe the media tries to make the economy seem worse that it is. That’s an increase from 46% in
November. “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 23% believe the nation’s professional reporters and commentators try to present an accurate picture of the economy. Thirteen (13%) believe the media tries to make the economy seem better than it really is.”

This crisis has been going on for months now. Various analysts blamed banks for writing bad loads. Ivy League PhDs never once said the news media is to blame. No one ever barked “bias” until now.

According to “Rasmussen Reports” people professing to be Republican are more likely to think this way, but not by much of a margin. “Sixty-five percent (65%) of Republicans say the media paints a bleaker picture of the economy than the facts merit. That view is shared by 44% of Democrats and 59% of those not affiliated with either major party.”

What has this to do with us here in “The People’s Republic of Austin”? I recently became aware that there is a watchdog “Media Bias Alert” organization operating on Facebook. It has 102 members who would blow the whistle on suspected media bias. “This is a group that allows you to raise your voice without having to raise your hand regarding the ridiculous Media Bias we have in our Country,” the site says.

The local moderator is a Round Rock man. I accidentally found myself in an unintended discussion with him regarding media. “Well. Pursue truth wherever you find it,” I told him meaning to end the conversation, but he had the last word. “And the truth will set this Country free soon enough... when it wakes up from the love fest.” I left it there.

When I was answering all of the email at KXAN a few years ago, I would have sworn there were more than 102 people in the audience who made the media, TV news in particular, the scourge of all that is democratic in this nation. I was shredded regularly by anonymous writers for having run a “biased” story, when there was every effort to make it balanced instead. The problem, of course, was that the story at issue didn’t say what the viewer thought it should say.

All of this goes back to my assertion that journalism should be considered a profession. Seeking the truth, balancing the story, observing the applicable laws, and making the final product worth reading is something that must be practiced, not much different from practicing law.

After answering hundreds, if not thousands, of these emails, I also came to know this truth again: You can make some of the people happy some of the time, but you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time. Further, some people aren’t happy people. Even more news viewers/users/consumers choose to have a closed mind.

What can the media do to counteract this assault? Keep standards high, check facts, and continue telling the truth. If ever we need professionalism, it is now.

© Jim McNabb, 2009

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