What Are the Facts, Anyway?

In recent news, KeithOlbermann and Chris Matthews have been pulled from the anchor chairs for MSNBC’s election coverage.  This comes shortly after the National Review’s cover story, “Barack Obama’s Pet Peacock,” and the RNC chant “NBC! NBC!” when Sarah Palin mentioned “media bias” in her VP acceptance speech. 

Sarah Palin Speech Highlights
(3:01 for the exchange)

 

More than the cover story and the chant – I think the Olbermann/Matthews demotion brings to light a major challenge in modern journalism.

First, let me just say this. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and  Bill O’Reilly are all the same to me. They pass personal opinions as fact. They reject the entrance of opposing views. And they act as if their answers are the only answers.  From my perspective – it goes against what I was taught in J school: maintain allegiance to citizens and the larger public interest above all else. Is it really in the public interest to introduce bias into any form of journalism?

When I think of the big picture – I think that this feeds our nation’s appetite for convenience and grants viewers a way to feel like a responsible citizen. But on the flip side – it allows citizens to be complacent in how they reach their opinions.

Network Opinion diminishes – not just NBC – but a common interest in a credible journalism practice. Seasoned journalists and industry leaders have pointed to blogs for hurting the health of the fourth estate — when it might be the exact opposite. While blogs open the conversation to people who have been shut out – cable news answered with talking heads -whose bias, vested interests are not always transparent.

In all fairness, I do not blame traditional media’s attempt to fill the opinion space. I see it as being provoked by unprecedented competition after the onset of the internet and their uninspiring response to 9/11. But the way I see it? New media and old face a challenge the industry has never before seen: how to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information in a seemingly polarized world – without telling them how to do it.

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