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Sick of people pushing barrows

I'm sick of it. I've had enough. At first it was enjoyable. Not anymore.

London has a broad range of newspapers. It is commonly touted as a sign of a strong democracy. Many of these cater to a distinctive readership (see here, about one-third of the way down). I have come to the conclusion, however, that this is not a strength. It is a weakness. I'm sick of having to view every story through a prism of some strong idealogical barrow.

Robert Fisk has the (sadly not unique) talent of being able to write a story from a viewpoint I would strongly agree with, and yet by the end of the article a part of me would happily promote the opposite view just because Fisk has said it so it seems wrong. If I write a piece promoting (note, not defending) torture or encouraging genocide, I have probably just read one of his pieces and am suitably annoyed by it.

Yesterday, I was reading a piece of Philip Anschutz in the Independent. Obviously, given that a noteworthy visit to his ranch has the power to alter the power landscape in this country, he is a person of interest and worth writing about. What annoyed me, though, was the description of him "using his wealth to push conservative causes". Politically, I probably don't agree with quite a few of the causes he supports. Obviously, the writer doesn't, either. If he did, Anschutz would be described as a generous philanthropist supporting a wide range of organisations.

I understand the use of irregular verbs: I'm a generous philanthropist, you give to charity, he uses his wealth to push his causes.

At some point, though, I just want to read the news, preferably with bias kept to a minimum, and as many relevant sides given as possible.

This does not necessarily mean that language must be strictly controlled to avoid perceptions of bias though. I find the BBC's insistent use on the word "militant" nothing more than an empty euphemism meaning terrorist. This was particularly reinforced when there was a report on Israel "accusing Syria of harbouring Palestinian militants." They do no such thing. Israel accuses Syria of harbouring Palestinain terrorists. Consequently, this story is either inaccurate, or presents irrefutable proof that "Palestinian militant"="Palestinian terrorist" in the eyes of the BBC.

To be honest, I find persistent bias and one-sided approaches from people who are nominally reporting news (people using titles such as journalist, reporter or correspondent) incompetent at best and dishonest at worst. Andrew Bolt gets (justifiably) criticised for what he does, but at least he is honest about what he does: he is a conservative commentator. He is publishing opinion, not reporting news. So whether it is Antony Loewenstein, Robert Fisk, Ed O'Loughlin or someone off Fox News, it is dishonest, and you become nothing more than a propagandist and a liar.

At the moment I would say that the most bearable source of news is Crikey. While at times they are little more than a gossip sheet and often they are wildly inaccurate (I still love the story proclaiming Melbourne as the competition whipping boys after an 0-3 start - Melbourne is now 10-4. Go Dees!), at least they happily admit to bias where it exists and will publish opposing pieces and points of view. Sadly, this puts them ahead of many of the more traditional sources of news and information.

Comments

Comment from Gillian

It's never enjoyable to have people parading their prejudices as virtues. And it is only the rare person who can see that they are biased in one way or another. One of the hardest things I ever had to get my students to do was see that it is possible to argue from a position that you don't believe in; or indeed actively dislike. But you have to remember that the people you cite are paid to write as they do because the readership in general likes it. Don't complain about the journalists; complain loudly to the Editor. Won't do you much good, but if no one tells the editors that they are sick of biased writing, how will the editors know?

I respond

I have no objection to it being done as commentary. Bolt can live in his deluded world all he likes. So can Adams. It doesn't bother me because they are not being asked to broadcast news. They are being asked for opinion.

I always find it fun arguing from positions I don't believe (as readers of this site will hopefully be aware). I think more people should join in the fun.

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