Nov 1 2004

A Different Race

The black press reveals gaps in mainstream election coverage

On March 16, 1827, the first African-American newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, began publication in New York. During its short but significant two-year run, Freedom’s Journal established the central role of the independent black press in the United States. In particular, the editors pledged to serve their readers in ways that the white press would not, by providing accurate information about African-American leadership and concerns; by covering relevant issues and events that other newspapers failed to acknowledge; and by printing perspectives absent in the white press. The nation’s media have, of course, progressed since the era of this first periodical. Newspapers in […]

Nov 1 2004

Meet the Stenographers

Press shirks duty to scrutinize official claims

A bizarre debate has emerged regarding whether journalists have a duty to investigate and assess the credibility of sources and their claims. Some highly placed journalists seem to say such judgments are not their job. Citing what they say are journalistic principles, they claim that investigating and reporting about the veracity of claims and the credibility of sources is just not what they do. In fact, it’s not only their job, it’s an essential task of journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists is very clear on the subject: At the top of the group’s Code of Ethics, under the heading […]

Nov 1 2004

The Budget Deficit’s Bigger Brother

Editorialists ignore looming trade gap

Everyone knows the federal budget deficit is a lurking danger, a dagger pointed at the heart of our economy. We know this in large part because newspaper editorials keep telling us so. The budget deficit is one of the few issues on which editorialists feel free to challenge both political parties, where they regularly advance their own proposals instead of simply reacting to the plans put forward by politicians. It’s a subject that inspires them to appeal to “vision” and “boldness” and “radical reform,” instead of the tepid me-too-ism that they normally serve up. Media pundits play the role of […]

Nov 1 2004

Journalistic Balance as Global Warming Bias

Creating controversy where science finds consensus

A new study has found that when it comes to U.S. media coverage of global warming , superficial balance—telling “both” sides of the story—can actually be a form of informational bias. Despite the consistent assertions of the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that human activities have had a “discernible” influence on the global climate and that global warming is a serious problem that must be addressed immediately, “he said/she said” reporting has allowed a small group of global warming skeptics to have their views greatly amplified. The current best climate research predicts that the Earth’s temperature could […]