Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Double Standard About Bias in Journalism

One of my favourite TV correspondents is John Stossel. I find his reporting is consistently forthright, provocative, challenging to axiomatic ideas and both well presented and well researched. In short, what good journalism ought to be.

Stossel has recently changed networks, switching from the politically accepted ABC to the unfashionable (read right of center) Fox. Here is his take on the situation. (Also see here).

Interesting. A journalist is upfront and candid about his politics and is vilified (of course, his are the wrong politics). On the contrary, an explicit declaration of ideology removes bias and clearly identifies the author's advocacy of that ideological perspective: bias is the manipulation of data or facts to align with an ideological perspective that remains implicit and surreptitious.

Keep these constructs in mind, especially when reading blogs and especially in the mainstream media's reporting of environmental issues. Ask yourself:

  • what is explicitly ideological and therefore advocacy?
  • and what is assumptive in its perspective, implicit in its tacit acceptance of axiomatic ideas and biased in its presentation of politically correct dogma?
Now, no ideology is immune to corruption or abuse. But Stossel is right when he says that only one perspective is labeled as biased and objectionable. Just ask the guys over at Superfreakonomics.

Besides, the UK is only one step away from making environmentalism the official state religion and everywhere else, it is the de facto alternative to the evils of capitalism: things like freedom, prosperity, wealth, a free press....thank goodness for George Orwell. Without him, we'd have to conjure up a new term for doublespeak (spin?) to assist people in differentiating advocacy from bias. Of course, Penn and Teller have a more succinct phrase.