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As Long as We Remember...

November 30, 2009

Considering the Source

Steven R. Berryman

More than a headline, title or subject line, considering the source author itself is most vital to comprehension when establishing the weight of your various media viewings and readings.


The significance of this is far more important than simply looking at brand, such as C-span, FOX, Frederick News-Post or The New York Times.


Knowing the reputation of the “brand” simply alerts one to exactly who the “filters” are being set up to serve. Answer is, it’s you being served by the brand-owner.


All of the above media regulars will occasionally toss in a contrarian piece, noticeable by a complete lack of follow-up or the future amplification of support. These types of protect-me-stories are left hanging in the tree like a stuffed Halloween ghost.


The half-hearted appeasement measures, or attempts by the extreme brands, are simply to inoculate themselves against criticism. The occasionally peeved advertiser or vested interest can be easily mollified about the introduction of a weakened virus.


When they go out of their way to claim “fair and balanced,” duck fast!


If this isn’t enough to keep you on your analytical toes, also keep in mind that the final promotional title of an article is typically established by an editor, not the author.


This post facto naming right is a potential opening for the media outlet’s bias. Reading through a headline or the name of a segment…between the lines – and considering what else it might have been – can be very instructive.


Fear of negative consequences from advertisers is easily a most common cause for the political correctness that forms bias.


I learned this first hand while representing radio host and commentator Michael Graham of WMAL radio during my formative days learning activism on the street.


We created a fan-based website and concentrated our support on a 24/7 basis for two months during our peak efforts.


Michael was an edgy morning drive-time host known for pushing the edge of sensibilities to keep his audience in tune. Much like a Rush Limbaugh meets Howard Stern might be!


I enjoyed this equal opportunity offender Michael for his open-mindedness and fearless approach to citizen journalism. He took on Middle-Eastern terrorism, its Islamic underpinnings, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or C.A.I.R. (pronounced “care” but with absolutely no relation) before it was popular to do so, during the George W. Bush post 9/11 years.


Upon supporting some of Michael Graham’s underlying assumptions on the root causes of terrorism today, I followed a trail of information that led me from the station management office of WMAL all the way to Moore Cadillac, a major big-buck advertiser.


Pressure applied from this advertiser, supported by influence from CAIR, eventually ended my radio friend’s local career. He was last seen on-air in the Boston area, further out of the political limelight.


Today WMAL’s mid-morning man Chris Plante takes as gospel the content that Mr. Graham lost his job over. How timing is important!


The term “political correctness” comes from the Cold War era of Josef Stalin and refers to “political correctness camp,” where dissidents were sent to the gulag until their attitudes improved to match the Soviet culture.


Although the above is an extreme example, it is nevertheless instructive of a most direct impact within a media operation.


Rather than the high-end big media influence game, the baseline for taking into account bias should be at the grass-roots level, at the individual journalist or reporter.


Where did they come from? A scholarship from a liberal institution, for instance?


Is their paper or network owned by General Electric or Korea’s Sun Myung Moon? Just who do they owe?


And beware of imposters:


Notice that a Charlie Gibson or a Katie Couric express the machinations of seasoned news-people, but are essentially news readers when compared to a Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Morrow.


Not that the older age of journalism and reporting was absent of bias influence peddling, but there was a virtual code of honor and standard that was abided to. Mr. Cronkite and Mr. Morrow stood on their own bona fides and drew from real world action when demonstrating their clout.


It would be useful to understand that spokesmen and advisers for powerful presidents never really go away, they can reincarnate through journalism like soldiers gravitate to the military-industrial-complex.


From Bill Moyers to Britt Hume to David Gergen, the new podiums of commentating provide an ability to complete ones agendas in an administrations’ afterlife. However, it is up to the observer to deduce the connections in order to make adjustments to some of their pronouncements!


Are you reading Michelle Malkin, who has learned at a young age the value of sensationalizing a position, especially coming from a minority? I like her, but understand the temptation.


Are you reading a conservative like George Will, predictably supporting a pet position with a plethora of word-o-mania and the occasional obfuscation? Your answer to this question will indicate your leaning as well!


You might even end up in Charles Krauthammer’s camp. Okay by me. Because as you know, I’m not biased!


Just kidding, as prudence dictates that we always should consider the source, despite forces to the contrary.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
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