This piece by journalist Chris Wallace provides an interesting perspective on the shadow-boxing nature of political reporting and the sorting of truth from lies as well as the sorting of lies from lies, by type.
But what has chiefly stuck in my mind is this admission about how, working for the AFR, Wallace reported “some fantastically inflammatory comments” from Malcolm Turnbull, who was then the spearhead of the Australian Republican Movement (ARM): “Journalists are human. As a fervent republican I didn’t necessarily want the ARM chief blowing himself up with these quotes… On the other hand, as a journalist I thought: Great story!”
Wallace took “the middle road” by later reading the quotes back to Turnbull to give him a chance to assert they really were on the record.
It begs the question though, what if Wallace were in possession of quotes that would have been harmful to a prominent monarchist? Would that person have been given the same opportunity to rethink and possibly recant?
I commend Wallace’s candour. I doubt anyone can truly leave behind their biases when reporting or even subbing. Those biases inevitably inform how we approach and view things, even from a subconscious level. Balance is generally the way western journalists attempt to achieve a measure of objectivity, by making sure competing views get a look in, even if one voice speaks most strongly in the end.
However the one fundamental and overriding bias of journalism, as a profession, that Wallace shows here was when he thought: “Great story!” The hopeful thing is that if at least someone is committed to telling great stories, from whatever angle they may come, it will tend to negate a natural preference for stories that contain only the morals or outcomes they like.
Having said that, a bias towards great stories is still a bias and one that has its own potential pitfalls. Hopefully more on that later.
Update: Two views on bias in Australian journalism. Peter Costello says the ABC as an institution has an inherent leftward list and once an ABC staffer even hissed at him. The other argues that the overall orientation of Aussie media, especially News Ltd, is to the right of centre.
SOURCE (See the original for links)
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here