It's Probably Because You Suck

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It's Probably Because You Suck

(Cross-posted Here.)


Nobody has ever read an Objective newspaper. If I bother to say this to a journalist, he inevitably froths at the mouth before rebutting:

"You're only saying that because you're a socialist."

Everyone says it, I reply. Leftists, Centrists, Rightists.

"Exactly! Everyone criticizes us. That shows that we're fair."

Actually, if everyone hates you, it's probably not because you're fair. It's probably because you suck.

The propagation of the mythical notion of Journalistic Objectivity should be understood as an advertising ploy. Remember that the News Media deals in information, which, before the Digital Revolution, was mostly scarce. To gain their audiences, outlets needed to distinguish their information from their competitors'.

The New York Times cites its relevancy ("All the news that's fit to print"). Fox pretends it's fair and balanced. Others play up their speed, the usefulness of their news, the reputations of their contributors and so on.

These are exactly the kind of claims you would expect from information peddlers seeking bigger audiences. When a newspaper says it's Objective, it's saying that it contains the Truth. Its reporters and editors are therefore trained professionals in the field of Truth. And they should not be troubled with the irrelevant objections of its Truth-deficient audience. The lay public, you see, will inevitably lapse into undisciplined, subjective thinking.

Fortunately, we get the last laugh. Newspapers are dying. The Internet has democratized Information, and now the public - armed with free publishing - does its own reporting, fact checking and analyzing. It's foolish to believe the NYT has exclusive access to the Truth when we can read every day about its oversights and misjudgments.

Yes, the reporter and the editor produce articles in accord with professional principles, but those articles are also shaped by imprecise things like intuition, timing, and space restrictions.

News stories aren't immaculate conceptions. They are subjective interpretations. Like yours. Like mine.



Since this isn't an original piece you've written for babble, I'm going to move this to our media forum.

Thanks very much for posting it, though!  Food for thought.  And welcome to babble!

Stephen Gordon

Paul Krugman once said that if the Republican leadership had announced that the world was flat, the headline in the New York Times would be "Shape of the earth: Opinions differ".

Too often, the attempt to bring 'balance' simply means giving equal space to both people who know what they're talking about and dim-witted cranks.


The North American media is absolutely horrible.

I recommend:,



It could be that some political parties are paying huge dollars for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I wouldn't put it past them and it is a smart startegy (if you can afford it).


Great opening post although I do think there still is a future for certain parts of the msp.

Canadian mainstream media is disgusting as well. Particularly the CBC with its pro-Liberal slant every time they open their mouthes. The Toronto Star is the same. CanWest go back and forth between the Liberals and the Tories. It just shows how weak the Liberals actuallly are with all this msp behind them.

If only we had at least one daily paper like the Guardian. The Times and the Independent are both right-of-centre publications, the Times more so.

I wish the Guardian would consider a Canadian daily.

There is a move afoot by the msp to charge google for every link they use. If they succeed there will be a big problem.

I dont know if anyone else has noticed with google but I am finding some political articles that are very old, for example, lets say an article from a month, or several months ago, that is not very good news for the NDP, coming up first in the list of current articles. It just makes me wonder if one of the other political parties has some kind of computer program that hits that kind of article a million times, or whatever, to bring up to the front of the line. Now I know all our political parties are honest and above board, and would never dream of doing that. Rght! Laughing

I wonder if google has some lind of protection against that.


North, I was linking to the Ugandan independent, an english language source of African news, not the British Independent.


Great name for a newspaper - "The Objective" 



Thank you.


"Too often, the attempt to bring 'balance' simply means giving equal space to both people who know what they're talking about and dim-witted cranks."

It's certainly a tricky line. There's a good argument behind balance - namely, given competing claims, each should be heard and the public should decide. I think the problem is that certain people/groups get more time than they deserve because of wealth/prestige/etc.  FAIR did a really good analysis of the U.S. media pre-Iraq invasion and showed how anti-war guests barely appeared at all on the major networks.

Jacob Two-Two

This ludicrous notion that any media outlet is "objective" (whatever that's supposed to mean in practice) could not be more dangerous. Equally wrong-headed is the notion of providing "balance" by showing "both" opposing views, as if any topic could be restricted to just two. It's all just part of an information system designed to keep people from thinking at all costs. Largely this is unconscious on the part of the people involved in the system, but that changes nothing.

Of course, the public bear their share of the blame. Believing that the news is objective and that giving two officially sanctioned viewpoints is balance absolves you from the responsibility of educating yourself. It's laziness and cowardice, plain and simple.

Usually, the opposing views are selected to both fit into a larger bias, creating an illusion of debate that actually narrows the range of opinion. A particularly stark example of this was a news show I watched many years ago about the Vietnam war, that examined the question of whether the US army eventually pulling out of the country was a betrayal of the Vietnamese people, or an inevitable misfortune that could not have been avoided. Somehow the idea that the entire military action from start to finish was a huge crime against humanity was never part of the debate. In some form or another these kinds of false polarities exist in all media.

What information media requires isn't "balance" or "objectivity" but diversity. We need outlets that wear their biases proudly on their sleeve so we can all see plainly just how their views are slanted, and we need a lot of these kinds of outlets, so that many different biased views are available to the public. Of course, this requires said public to do a lot of heavy lifting, sifting through reams of information and constructing critical analyses out of it all. Nobody wants that. They just want someone to tell them, in plain english, exactly what's "really going on". The idea that you could possibly get this from anyone is a level of self-delusion that rivals clinging to the myth of Santa Clause, but people refuse to give it up, and more than anything else, this is destroying society.

Our addiction to the illusion of objectivity allows these huge media conglomerations to seem perfectly rational. After all, if the news is "objective" and gives us "both sides of the story", then why should it matter that one company owns all the newspapers in the country? If you are taken in by these notions, then ownership is irrelevent. Of course, back in the real world, it is extremely relevent who owns the papers you read. Every single word will be steeped, both consciously and unconsciously, in the biases of those owners, biases that the audience is willfully ignorant of, desperate to preserve the myth of objectivity, so they don't have to figure things out for themselves.

Diversity and conflict are the fundamental elements of nature, and likewise, of both democracy and education. No system can remain healthy without them. It's messy, but it's all that works. Uniformity always creates weakness, instability, and eventually, destruction.