Monday, September 21, 2009

Media Matters: 18% say press "fair"

According to this poll which also says that around 1 in 3 people consider the media to be accurate. This presents a rather big problem for a media industry thats shedding profits and employees at a record rate.

To get a picture of the problem from a local perspective I offer up two examples of shoddy, biased, reporting found in today's ChronBlog.

1. Today's Move It! Column by Carolyn Feibel. As first mentioned by Kevin Whited this type of "reporting" is commonplace in ChronBlog. Not only is the Citizen's Transportation Coalition constantly provided a platform for their views, but often those views are presented without challenge. Missing from the local transportation debate, in the media, are the voices of groups such as the Houston Property Rights Association or Paul Magaziner's Corridor's United. There are several groups out there who support the expansion of the Grand Parkway and oppose MetroRail. Some of them have valid reasons for doing so. Failure to present all sides of the debate is the great failure of ChronBlog, especially on transportation.

2. Serving up nutritional advice for Houston Schools by Jennifer Radcliffe on the Chron's "School Zone" blog. Granted, the standard for Blog reporting is a little bit more informal than the standard for a full-on newspaper report. There are some blogs, mostly independent, or Chron.commons reader blogs, in the Houston blogosphere with seemingly no standards for reporting truthfully, or correcting errors if printed. That being said the information in this blog totally excludes any dissenting voices in the issue of HISD nutrtition in favor of a relatively small group who's taken it on themselves to push for local, organic foods in schools, despite the fact that there's increasing evidence they are no more healthy than traditionally processed foods. What locally grown organics are, is more expensive. Yet, in the story, there's nothing mentioned that this might not be a universally accepted idea.

Here at Harris County Almanac we are always opinionated, but make every effort to be fair to those opinions with wich we disagree, providing them with a full airing. While the Lose an Eye era of my personal blogging career is over, you can expect to still find media watchdogging here, on Harris County Almanac, in the form of occasional op-ed pieces. My goal is not to take a political side, but to hopefully expand the debate.

It is important to note that not all posts on the Almanac are going to povide an open forum for debate. My goal with this project is not to engage the reader (as it was with LaE) but to expound further on issues that interest me such as media fairness, accruacy, etc. Because of this comments will be moderated, and anonymous comments will not be allowed. If you want your post to stand, put your name on it. Even if you were deleted at LaE the odds are, if you're topical, your comment will make it through the moderation process. One thing I'm not going to do here is get into an online pissing match. This is not about "media bias" it's about media fairness and accuracy, areas that I feel are truly what is leading to the declines in readership, and what people really are pointing to when they bring up bias. I can provide you with a Million anecdotal pieces of evidence why the media is/is not biased. I have no desire to broach that subject here.

Because the media is expanding I will also include blogs, and independent, online-based media sources in our conversation as well, with the notable exception of partisan blogs, which I feel are more house organs than legitimate sources of information.

Expect posts here to occur sporadically, because they'll show up whenever I find an article that suits me, or when I find examples of stories written with fairness towards all sides.

We're often told that without an independent media we cannot have a thriving democracy. This mantra has been forced down our throats by, well, the media, for many years now. The problem, in my mind, is that we're already in a place where there's no quality independent journalism taking place within the confines of the MSM, leading us to a place where our Democracy is threatened because information is travelling primarily through the hands of amateurs and partisans for whom skepticism is a one way street.

It's the mission of Harris County Almanac to work against that.

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