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End the Bias: We Need Newspapers

Posted Dec 30 2008 2:43pm
It is no secret that the newspaper business is in severe trouble. A big part of the problem is technological: The Internet has destroyed the classified sections, for example, and many younger people no longer read newspapers, causing circulation to decline.

But in my view, another huge issue is liberal bias, particularly about socially controversial issues involving stories that are part of what is known as the "culture war." I have been deeply involved in stories of that sort for many years and have seen the bias first hand over and over again--sometimes in the sneering attitude exhibited by the stories, but more often in the important facts not printed and the issues not pursued--as well as a decided scorn toward people of a certain moral persuasion. It has gotten so bad that many reporters are blinded by their own--or the notorious group-think narratives--and report it rather than the actual story at hand. This obvious and unremitting bias and disdain has permanently alienated about 1/3 of potential newspaper readers, which is suicidal in the current business atmosphere!

I take a back seat to no one in my desire to see reform in the journalism business, including concerted efforts to make it fairer and less condescending toward those with whom liberal reporters and editors disagree. But we need our newspapers (and I don't just say this because Secondhand Smokette is employed as a political columnist by the San Francisco Chronicle). Thus, I agree with Paul Mulshine of the Newark Star Ledger, when he writes in "All I Want for Christmas is a Newspaper," that bloggers "are no replacement for real journalists." Alas, and all too typically, he misses the bigger picture. From the column:
The common thread here, whether the subject is foreign, national or local, is that the writer in question is performing a valuable task for the reader--one that no sane man would perform for free. He is assembling what in the business world is termed the "executive summary." Anyone can duplicate a long and tedious report. And anyone can highlight one passage from that report and either praise or denounce it. But it takes both talent and willpower to analyze the report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.

This highlights the real flaw in the thinking of those who herald the era of citizen journalism. They assume newspapers are going out of business because we aren't doing what we in fact do amazingly well, which is to quickly analyze and report on complex public issues. The real reason they're under pressure is much more mundane. The Internet can carry ads more cheaply, particularly help-wanted and automotive ads.
Talk about myopic. If more reporters acted like real journalists instead of obvious ideological advocates, the problem with newspapers caused by technology would be far less acute because there would be tens of millions more people willing to shell out $1 for the local fish wrap.

Please, newspaper professionals, get a clue. Stop the bias and convince those you have alienated to give you another try. We need our newspapers!
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