Megalomedia - Wake up to your news

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Smoked Meat Mission Redux

I am going to keep this post brief, cause I'm off to Montreal today and I need to get ready to roll. Hopefully in the next few days I'll have some big news about this site for you based on my trip, but in the meantime, let's rant. The Star sinks to Citizen levels A few weeks ago I posted about the Ottawa Citizen returning to their Spin, Counterspin, Truth analysis pieces that featured prominently in their election coverage last fall. There's another one today, with Jack Aubry deconstrucitng the role of the NDP and Senate in keeping the minority government afloat. Sadly, the Toronto Star fell victim to the same trend, with The Spin, The Claim and The Verdict by Tonda MacCharles and Sean Gordon. Let me explain something here. This is the media's job. This shouldn't be a special feature. What the Citizen and Star are doing is essentially admitting that the bulk of their news coverage is spun. By providing context on one issue, they are underlining the lack of context that plagues the majority of their pages. The problem is that because of the pressure to get the scoop and be the first one on every story, mainstream dailies frequently publish stories with one source giving one side of a story. These stories are followed up the next day with the other side's response and eventually the reader gets lost in a sea of rhetoric. And papers are forced to invent Spin, Counterspin, Truth-style analysis. A better solution would be to deconstruct party talking points and provide context in every story. When did the idea of balanced reportage become a novelty? The Post shows its true colours I don't have time to go over all of these one-by-one, but the Post has some real gems in their comment sections today, including a Post reporter arguing that newspapers are still a legitimate medium despite plummeting circulation numbers (no self-interest there); a military historian arguing for new energy policies, not because our reliance on oil is killing the planet but because oil revenues are going to "the enemy" (undefined, of course) and countries that haven't had to work for their wealth and therefore don't respect democracy; and an editorial on how teens can't make decisions for themselves and it's good that the state is there to tell them how to behave (based on both the Florida teen's attempts to have an abortion and the Jehovah's Witness who doesn't want a blood transfusion). Phew, that's some good neo-con'ing.

4 Comments:

  • The press just can't win with you, can they? If they run Spin/Counterspin articles, it suggests the rest of their coverage is spun; if they don't, then they're doing nothing to overcome spun coverage. I would much rather that they do this than do nothing.

    They don't have time to get the sort of context you expect for every article, because as you point out, time is precious. The news is constantly evolving, and it doesn't always fit neatly into the daily cycle. Spin, Counterspin, Truth-style analysis is one way to look back on previous coverage and re-assess its validity. For this reason, I find them really valuable.

    I think the media's role as a filter is better-served by them not covering certain things that don't merit the public's attention. Like this dubious study on TM that you wrote about on Monday. If the media really are acting as filters, you won't notice because - hey! - they're filtering stuff.

    By Anonymous Phronetic Man, at 7:01 AM  

  • I don't think offering a synthesis of differing viewpoints should be a special feature.
    True, there isn't always time to go in-depth on every issue, but the problem is compounded when papers like the Citizen run stories based on one source's take on an issue.
    That's why I was so surprised to see this whole counterspin analysis in the Star, because typically, they do a good job of covering political issues.
    During the height of the Gomery craziness, they'd typically run one longer piece encompassing the testimony, response from appropriate key players and some synthesis.
    The Citizen, on the other hand, would jump on every little detail and try to build a story on it - neglecting to contextualize the different elements in the broader picture.

    By Blogger Joe Boughner, at 7:28 AM  

  • I don't think it should be a special feature either. I wasn't arguing in favour of one-sided reporting; I was arguing that you're overreacting about the use of spin analysis stories, because whether journalists want it or not, one-sided reporting happens and there needs to be a way to counteract it later. Analysis pieces help with that. They're not the real problem here. The real problem is when they're used as a substitute for balanced reporting. I thought that was your argument all along, yet you get so mad whenever these spin analysis pieces appear.

    If the Star's coverage is so good anyway, then they're probably not using this spin analysis piece as a crutch for balanced coverage, as you believe the Citizen to be.

    By Anonymous Phronetic Man, at 7:59 AM  

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    By Anonymous tkob, at 8:07 AM  

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