Economist.com Does ’7 Questions for Dan Froomkin’

Economist.com, Democracy in America, Seven questions for Dan Froomkin

My favorite of the seven:

DIA: Much of Huffington Post’s traffic is driven by gossipy stories about sex and entertainment. Are you concerned about the effect this has on the site's respectability?

Mr Froomkin: It’s not my favourite thing about the site. But mostly, I recognise it as evidence of how the Huffington Post is truly a creature of its medium. A fair amount of people come to a website in part to be entertained, and to deny that would be to turn away a large audience of potential news consumers. And please keep in mind that our staid, holier-than-though newspapers carry horoscopes and Sudoku, not just news. I know some people who subscribe to newspapers primarily because they couldn’t live without the comics.

The kids' demand for the comics does seem to be why we still get the Miami Herald. Even though they now print some so small I can hardly read them.

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9 Responses to Economist.com Does ’7 Questions for Dan Froomkin’

  1. Emily says:

    I subscribe to the Seatte Times mostly to get the crossword puzzle. And the puzzle, on the comics page, is right above “Prickly City”, the most offensive conservative “comic” strip that I’ve ever read. I have to fold the paper over to do the puzzle. Life is tough if you like to do the crossword puzzle.

  2. Vic says:

    Here’s my favorite:

    DIA: Do you think the media should strive for objectivity in its reporting?

    Mr Froomkin: No. Journalists should strive for accuracy, and fairness. Objectivity is impossible, and is too often confused with balance. And the problem with balance is that we are not living in a balanced time. For instance, is it patently obvious that at this point in our history, the leading luminaries on one side of the American political spectrum are considerably less tethered to reality than those on the other side. Madly trying to split the difference, as so many of my mainstream-media colleagues feel impelled to do, does a disservice to the concept of the truth.

    So the ACCURATE statement is that the Left is tethered to reality, while the Right is just nuts? So the journalist striving for accuracy really should do his or her reporting from THAT accurate basis of reality? Accuracy and fairness demands that one call those who have a different view of things nuts, rather than address how one’s own view of things is somehow better, or overcomes the speedbumps of life in a better way?

    What can anyone say to anything so overtly biased and self-righteous?

    And as for some of the other content on Huff Post, I am constantly surprised by some of the stuff that you see there, within pixels of commentary by people who you’d normally think would have long-ago refused to comment on a site with such pablum. Then again, it was OK that Clinton abused women under him just because he also supported key issues of the Left, so the kind of intellectual whiplash that Dan Froomkin and the Huff Post induce daily must be OK to its readers.

    BTW, is Dan your twin, or just a brother?

  3. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Objectivity is impossible, according to Dan.

    What is objectivity? The entire set of facts which define a situation, each balanced appropriately within the whole? How can this be known?

    Fairness matters. Being an honest dealer in information matters; trying to get the story right, not just attack your enemies or ‘prove’ yourself right, matters.

    Objectivity in this context is all but meaningless…fairness to all parties involved equates with proper balancing of facts within the (artificial, imperfect) whole that is created by the reporter, and which is supposed to provide us with a usable model of the real situation.

    Like, say, a report on incinerators and black communities and the proximity between them. Just for instance.

  4. michael says:

    Dan’s three years younger than me.

    I challenge you to find four significant left-wing media figures as factually challenged as Beck, Limbaugh, Savage, and Hannity, not to mention all the very nutty guests who show up routinely on Fox. If some people think the earth is flat, and some think it is vaguely spherical, we should beware false equivalence between their views.

    Some things are false, and there is no way around that.

  5. Vic says:

    Guess your folks just pump out one model!

    I don’t defend Beck, et al., but I also don’t put them into any OTHER catagory than biased commentators. I don’t worry about whether they are biased or not, because I know they are – and it’s not like they pretend they are not. Just because a network puts someone on the air, does not mean that the network believes them to be unbiased.

    But the problem with finding equivalents across the ideological aisle is that you have to deal with which “facts” are true – what is your baseline? And has it been “adjusted” to conform to anyone’s extant viewpoint or preferences? It’s all too easy to slide the baseline to read (for example) “government-run healthcare is the only solution to our problems and to disagree with that is wrong,” then say that Beck, et al. are so obviously wrong, in comparison to someone like Olbermann, Matthews, Krugman, Friedman, Rhodes, etc. (assuming for the moment that they all support the idea) and that it is only “valid” to debate the differences in the views of the later group, while dismissing the former as a bunch of wackos.

    There are lots of commentators on both the left and right whose viewpoints are SO different from eachother, that you have three choices:
    1). The extremes are both nuts and the truth is in the middle.
    2). All viewpoints are potentially valid and should be debated and examined for their truth, without automatically dismissing anyone as a nut.
    3). One extreme or the other is SO out of it, that they are automatically nuts. (You simply shift the “middle” over to one side so that Randi Rhodes is slightly left of mainstream and Glenn Beck is a wacko.)

    The point of view expressed in #3 is what Dan advocates and what most people tend toward who stridently advocate a political philosophy 24/7 (as opposed to only within 1 week of a major election). It involves the ordering of the world according to how YOU see it, then placing viewpoints within that framework. It CANNOT be unbiased. They very fact that you question that one can come up with even four significant figures on the Left who are also outspokenly partisan in their use and interpretation of facts PROVES that you have aligned your dial so that the partisan Left is somehow more mainstream and thus more factually correct.

    My view is that #2 is the better, if more complex strategy. But it involves a bit more commitment than what can be done in 20 minutes, or a paragraph in a blog. There is a lot that SHOULD be considered from both extremes of the political spectrum. But it’s too much work, so most people never bother. But it makes them feel better about it if the simply brand the hard end as a bunch of nutballs who aren’t worth considering anyway.

    Rather than a silly and pointless argument about who’s got more correct facts, I’d be more interested in you pointing out some facts that Beck et al. get wrong while showing how their equivalents on the Left get it correct. I don’t defend what they say – I’m not them – but what facts are you using as your baseline?

    Remember, there is a big difference between political commentary and factual reporting, and a big differnce between “facts” and partisan assumptions holding up a worldview. When Limbaugh uses the IRS tax data showing that over 40% of Americans don’t pay any tax, sometimes even receiving back tax money they didn’t pay in the first place, while the vast majority of taxes are paid they a very small percentage of earners (this IRS data is perminantly posted and kept up at his website) to assert that almost all taxes are paid by people earning over $X, he is arguing from facts. When he asserts that adding additional taxes on the top 10% of earners is bad and will lead to X, he is commenting – even predicting – but not arguing from facts. So if one asserts that Limbaugh has his facts wrong when he argues the later situation, but Rhodes has her facts right when she argues the opposite, it’s just an incorrect comparison of “facts.” You can’t compare political commentary as if it’s based on facts.

  6. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Right. Its a nice trick.

    You put all the commenters together, and look at them as a whole. No need to distinguish, right?

    And, you put people on our side that we don’t want at all, Matthews and Friedman. Presumably because, unlike all on your side, they aren’t known as liars, just as useful idiots. (Oh, right, you aren’t precisely their ideological bedmate, you just have common respect for the diversity of opinion.)

    So you can’t distinguish between them? Well, that’s fine. We can, as Michael’s comment made perfectly clear.

    You know, I have seen comment threads where the Rush sympathizers come out complaining how its all so unfair.

    But you know what? Most people think Rush is a pig and Beck is psychotic. They are common rabble rousers, nothing more nothing less. Today it was Rush’s bestiality comment, tomorrow its Barrack the Magic Negro.

    You can’t be a rhetorical bomb-thrower and expect to be treated as a statesman. Period.

    Go ahead, love Rush to death. But that makes you, in many if not most people’s books, an idiot.

    The ‘Left’, as you like to say, is currently doing a decent job in cleaning up the mess the GOP has left in just eight years. And the right is increasingly irrelevant.

    Rush will get his dollars from ads from gold investment schemes and feet-warmers because of the mouth-breathers. Coming into reasoned discourse and proving that you are a fellow mouth-breather is tiring as it happens again and again.

    Arguing at length about how its unfair to Rush to treat him as he really is is…liberal fascism.

    Sorry, I mean acknowledging reality. Oops.

  7. Vic says:

    RZ, you have about the worst reading comprehension of anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s like you just MAKE UP stuff, accuse people of saying it, then riff on that. Until you actually learn to read seriously, I have no interest in exchanges with you.

    Since Michael seems to view this blog as simply a collection of drive-bys, laying out interesting ideas, only to abandon them on the vine, I’m not sure why he even bothers keeping it up. Unfortunately, everything interesting around here seems to quickly be turned into a Rhodo Zeb flame war. Oh well. It’s too bad, Michael, this could be a fun blog…

    (oh, and sorry in advance for the obligatory response from RZ about how stupid I am.)

  8. Vic says:

    BTW, It’d be at least nice if RZ would follow the behavior he expects of others on his OWN blog/website.

    http://www.gongshangfa.com/comment-policy/

  9. Rhodo Zeb says:

    There is no balance. The right has long been out of control. There is no sense in wasting time listening to the paranoid ramblings of Beck and Rush, other than as entertainment.

    They do not get a seat at the table, dispute what a vocal minority of the country seem to believe.

    Its no surprise that now a bunch of the loonies are calling the government illegitimate. They never had any respect for law in the first place.

    Witness their unwavering support for torture.

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