Partisan Journalism

partisan journalism
In his well researched book Partisan Journalism: A History of Media Bias in the United States, Jim Kuypers traces the history of American journalism back to America’s founding and shows the history of journalism’s connection to party politics. Each era differs, of course. The changes in media from newspapers to radio and television and now the Internet make a marked difference in journalism. After all, few disagree with McLuhan who told us “The media is the message.”

This is clearly shown in the impact of the decrease in newspaper subscribers, who’d at least glance through most sections of the paper, and Internet readers, who hop by clicking from one link to the next, perhaps never seeing stories unrelated to their core interests.

I know from my research into the 19th century that newspapers were clearly affiliated with political parties. It was customary for each paper to annually declare which party they were aligned with. Now that practice is no more, but it’s not hard to determine that PBS*, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, etc. lean towards the Dems and Fox News leans towards the GOP. Kuypers does spend a good chapter on surveys of journalists, which confirm what I’d heard about a slant in journalists vis-a-vis in membership in and donations to the Democrats. (Roughly over 85% of journalists identify themselves as Democrats. Even a majority of Fox News employees donated to Democrats in 2012.) There’s a lot of solid data, along with the sources so you can double check it all.

Rather than rehash every section let me share an excellent summary and review:

[F]ocusing on the warring notions of objectivity and partisanship [ . . . ] Kuypers shows how the American journalistic tradition grew from partisan roots and, with only a brief period of objectivity in between, has returned to those roots today. The book begins with an overview of newspapers during Colonial times, explaining how those papers openly operated in an expressly partisan way; he then moves through the Jacksonian era’s expansion of both the press and its partisan nature. After detailing the role of the press during the War Between the States, Kuypers demonstrates that it was the telegraph, not professional sentiment, that kicked off the movement toward objective news reporting. The conflict between partisanship and professionalization/objectivity continued through the muckraking years and through World War II, with newspapers in the 1950s often being objective in their reporting even as their editorials leaned to the right. This changed rapidly in the 1960s when newspaper editorials shifted from right to left, and progressive advocacy began to slowly erode objective content. Kuypers follows this trend through the early 1980s, and then turns his attention to demonstrating how new communication technologies have changed the very nature of news writing and delivery. In the final chapters covering the Bush and Obama presidencies, he traces the growth of the progressive and partisan nature of the mainstream news, while at the same time explores the rapid rise of alternative news sources, some partisan, some objective, that are challenging the dominance of the mainstream press. This book steps beyond a simple charge-counter-charge of political bias
For more, click here.

The best part of the book was how it shows readers how to look out for framing, selection and emphasis and the sort of questions to see how television journalists shape the news to fit their agenda.

I recommend people read Partisan Journalism and take the time to fact check as you go.

*My near daily source.
My other regular source since I believe in learning from all sides.
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Hoaxed

Featuring Scott Adams, Jordan Peterson, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas, communications professors, and other experts, this film by Mike Cenovich explores “Fake News.” The face-paced, Hoaxed will keep you stimulated as it presents the history of Fake News along with examples, past and present. It’s a must-see film, though you should also read and watch other

It taught me about the Operation Mockingbird, when the CIA paid American reporters to write the stories it wanted. At first that was supposed to apply just to foreign media outlets, but later spread to stories that were published domestically. Operation Mockingbird lasted from the 1950s till the 1980s when Senator Frank Church went public about this program.

The film’s structure builds and builds so that a viewer will see how pervasive Fake News is and how so many journalists are guilty. Each subject has a different take and vibe from Scott Adam’s low key personality to the electric Stefan Molyneux’s caffeinated monologue, which is a compelling connection between Plato’s cave story and our illusory view of the world via media.

While the film isn’t as sarcastic, its makers have learned from Michael Moore in how it cuts back and forth between news footage and commentary.

Hoaxed (running time 2 hours, 8 minutes) is available on Vimeo.

 

He’s Cute, but . . .

I just read about the top earners on YouTube. One 6 year old boy caught my eye because he and his parents, I imagine earned $11,000,000 from their YouTube videos.

From the few I’ve seen, Ryan’s videos show him playing with a new toy. Ryan is adorable and seems very genuine. He does get a lot of toys to test out. His parents often participate by playing along.


Here’s a video of Ryan playing with a few different toy advent calendars. They are new to me and cute, but isn’t advent about anticipation? I realize the chocolate calendars also emphasize consumption rather than anticipation, but

I hope Google doesn’t demonetize Ryan and grab 80% of his income as they have for Casey and Simon and Martina. (I’m hoping both Casey and Simon and Martina get fair compensation for their videos.)

I’m still stunned by this income. A lot of TV stars don’t earn $11,000,000 a year. Here’s a list of the top salaries Hollywood TV actors get. Ryan does make more. Well, he also writes his own material. I hope his parents, who do seem like good people, invest wisely.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot stars Tina Fey as Kim, a broadcaster who half-heartedly volunteers to go to Afghanistan on assignment. Fey’s character leads a nice, but ho hum life in New York with a steady boyfriend (Josh Charles) and a steady, unchallenging job just reading news. Once in Afghanistan, she realizes she’s way over her head. She eventually adapts to life during wartime.

While away, she discovers her boyfriend is cheating so she’s free to take up with Martin Freeman’s politically incorrect, usually philandering, war-savvy character, who’s a photo journalist.

I felt the first half of the movie drags and contains a lot of obvious jokes and clichéd situations about culture, but it’s worth watching on DVD or on a plane where you can watch half, take a break and watch the second half. Tina Fey does a fine job as does Martin Freeman and Josh Charles. The reason to watch is to see what sacrifices people make during this war that too many of us forget and to see what has gone on in Afghanistan.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Inside a semi-local train

Inside a semi-local train

Chicago, train 148

Exquisite Lobby, Downtown Chicago

Inside the Chicago Public Library's YouMedia

Inside the Chicago Public Library’s YouMedia

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Samuel Beckett on TV?

I flipped on the TV and caught an episode of Judging Amy that I’d never seen. The themes were grief, and finding the strength to trust or love again. In one scene Amy visits her brother who’s in the hospital. Previously, she’d chewed him out accusing him of retreating and giving up. She finds he’s been reading the Collected Prose of Samuel Beckett. (See TV can be erudite, accessible and entertaining.)

This quotation struck me as poignant and true:

“Memories are killing. So you must not think of certain things, of those that are dear to you, or rather you must think of them, for if you don’t there is the danger of finding them, in your mind, little by little. That is to say, must think of them for a while, a good while, every day several times a day, until they sink forever in the mud. That’s an order.” – Samuel Beckett, “The Expelled” (1945)

To find the exact quote, I searched Google. (I don’t usually watch TV with a steno pad on hand.) This blog [link broken thanks to my account trespasser] had an interesting essay on this episode.

All aspects of memory are on my mind as I read Proust–even during my Proust hiatus.