Trib Public Editor on Bias

Chicago Tribune Public Editor Don Wycliff has ‘the first in an occasional series’ on the issue of media bias. First, he addresses the seriousness of the matter from the perspective of journalists:

Nothing wounds a good newsman or newswoman as deeply as an allegation of bias. Even if the bias is conceded to be unintentional, it suggests a failure of the professional discipline that we journalists pride ourselves on and that is the basis of our credibility. If it is said to be intentional, it amounts to an allegation of deliberate distortion and bad faith.

Wycliff then turns to recent accusations of bias at the Trib, which have mostly focused that paper’s coverage of the Bush administration, since ‘the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians [is] in a relatively quiet phase’ (!) Here’s an interesting line:

When the media report skeptically and critically about [Bush's] message–and what’s the point of doing journalism if not to be skeptical and critical?–they come off as “negative.”

Is the point of journalism to be ‘skeptical and critical’? We thought the point was to bring news stories to the public’s attention in as accurate a manner as possible. Independent news media should not become mouthpieces for any government, but all too often in Israel coverage, the IDF/Israeli government position is granted very little legitimacy, or omitted entirely.

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