Saturday, August 27, 2011

100% Newsish

That should be a label on The Texas Tribune's "31 days, 31 ways" list of progressive candidate's talking points examination of the "effects" of the 2011 Texas Legislature.

Expect these issues to be parroted repeatedly by Prog* candidates as they attempt to try and gain back some relevancy in Texas politics during the next election cycle, and expect the same Prog politicians to quote The Trib (and their Progressive/Democratic board and financial backing) as an "independent source of journalism" verifying their claims.

That's not to say that newsish outlets can't report hard news. The can, and do. As a matter of fact some of the best day-to-day legislative reporting in Texas comes out of Evan Smith's shop. On election day, when their site is up, they're required reading for political junkies. However, when they move into news-editorial content (what I call newsish material) that's where their bias slip shows.

In many ways this is not a bad thing. To me it's OK that the Trib writes from a Progressive perspective, in many ways that this blog writes from a center-right perspective as does my other project Texas Iconoclast. Of course, the big difference is we readily admit our bias so that it's out there for all to see. The Trib, on the other hand, will swear up and down that the bright, young, trendy group of reporters with edgy eye-wear (who happen to all be Progs that Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith (himself a trendy, hip proponent of edgy eye-wear who's also a staunch Prog) has gathered around the Prog campfire have NO BIAS AT ALL in their writing. It's the same newsish fallacy that the public is supposed to follow with groups like Politifarce, the opinion cum "fact-checking" site that proved the Pulitzer to be nothing more than a giant journalist circle-jerk. (Much in the same manner Obama's Peace Prize proved the Nobel to be a big Prog circle-jerk)

The problem with party bias is that, when ideas become politically untenable, you look a fool when you about face on an issue because the party Politburo has suddenly done an about face. Party bias doesn't work well for news organizations, or newsish organizations for that matter. Were the Tribune to come out and say "Hey, we're a Democratic news outlet!" that would (1) be false and (2) ruin their access to Republican candidates. In short, they'd become a Democratic party blog. Their mission is much bigger than that.

Reporting the news with a particular ideal however is A-OK. As a matter of fact, I would argue that ALL journalism is reported from a certain ideological perspective. Just as the MSM groups all possess a liberal (note: note Democratic) bias so does Fox News post with a conservative (note: not Republican) bias. The problem arises when Fox and the MSM say they're "right down the middle", which is just so much bull. They're no more "down the middle" than is the Trib, or Iconoclast, or this blog.

As a matter of fact, I would argue that ALL of the news you read today is mostly newsish, from one perspective or the other. The difference between a news organization producing newsish material and a newsish organization reporting the news is really just a matter of funding. From a newsish perspective the best outlet in Texas is the Trib, with a couple of sub-par outlets (Texas Observer and Texas Independent) occasionally producing a blog post or three.

But the Trib is the Majordomo, no other outlet can compete with products such as their "31 in 31" series and, given the level of writing talent that Smith has assembled, they probably shouldn't try.

Long-live the King of Newsish.

*Prog: Short for progressive, also a poke at the French.

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