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Member since: Fri May 8, 2009, 12:59 AM
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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.”

Healthcare debate lacks factual arguments against Obamacare

Nice article calling out how the RW continues to ignore facts and how the media continues to help perpetuate RW myths. The thing is that this can pretty much be applied to pretty much any substantive policy discussion.


Healthcare reporters and bloggers I queried in an informal poll confirmed that the ACA elicits unusual fervor among their readers. One who writes for a progressive website says that "Obamacare is only in second place when it comes to hate tweets. No. 1 is Benghazi."

What accounts for the pungent rancor? Here's a rundown:

•The Fox News effect. That's shorthand for the combined impact of the Republican assault on Obamacare and relentlessly negative coverage from the right-wing news media. "As divided as the GOP is, one thing they can agree on is that they hate the ACA," says Timothy S. Jost, an expert on healthcare law at Virginia's Washington and Lee University. "That's an important organizing principle for them."

The campaign involves ceaseless repetition of the mantra that Obamacare is bad, accompanied by almost no explanation why. It's a canny approach, because polls have shown consistently that Americans favor the individual elements of the ACA by a wide margin — the ban on exclusions for preexisting conditions, the closing of the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole," tax credits for small businesses to give their workers coverage, and expanding Medicaid all are favored by 65% or more. But "Obamacare," undefined, gets low marks.
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