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Mon Jun 30, 2014, 11:00 AM

Patterson Tackles Our Dumb News Culture in ‘Informing the News’

This is great book that highlights the role that our modern media plays in helping create the dysfunctional political system that we have. You have a media that has dropped any pretense of objectivity in favor of promoting a false equivalency between the extreme right, on the one hand, and moderates and left of center types, on the other. You need only glance on the front page of Yahoo to see how even internet gateways are being subverted to push a right wing agenda.


This summer The Onion ran a satirical piece purporting to be an op-ed by CNN’s managing editor, Meredith Artley, titled, “Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning.” Her explanation for why CNN filled the top news slot with the story “Miley Cyrus Did What???” (this was the actual headline; no need to satirize it) instead of reporting on Syria or the unrest in Egypt: “It was an attempt to get you to click on CNN.com so that we could drive up our web traffic, which in turn would allow us to increase our advertising revenue.”

According to Thomas E. Patterson’s new book “Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism” (Vintage, 233 pages, $15), this kind of thinking is alas, not fiction, but the sort of logic that drives much of mainstream journalism today.

* * *

It’s not just the content, Patterson writes, but the style of reporting that can give the audience the wrong impression of the world as it actually exists. It’s cheaper for news organizations to produce op-eds and opinion-based stories than it is to pursue thoughtful investigative reporting. This matters, Patterson writes, because studies have shown that “exposure to one-sided arguments can lead people to adopt extreme political views. It can also give them a warped sense of what the opposing side believes.”

The other standard journalism technique that Patterson takes to task is the “objective reporting model,” the type of stories in which a journalist interviews one person on one side of the issue and a different person on the other side of the issue, and plays the statements off each other without pointing out whether there’s more scientific evidence supporting one side, for example. In this type of story, the journalist often makes no effort to try to uncover the truth. “The objective reporting model,” Patterson writes, “absolves journalists of their part in the deception.”

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Reply Patterson Tackles Our Dumb News Culture in ‘Informing the News’ (Original post)
TomCADem Jun 2014 OP
Fred Sanders Jun 2014 #1
JayhawkSD Jul 2014 #2

Response to TomCADem (Original post)

Mon Jun 30, 2014, 11:05 AM

1. Cheaper to do op eds and opinion pieces than real investigation and reporting.....says it all.

Informed argument is equated with earnest opinion.

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Response to TomCADem (Original post)

Tue Jul 1, 2014, 09:51 AM

2. "Objective reporting" forsooth


It's lazy reporting. They do the "he says, she says" but do no research as to which one is lying, stupid, or otherwise full of shit.

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