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Will Responsible Journalism Return? July 28, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in politics.
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The mainstream media has been inept and quite frankly irresponsible in its reporting on rightwing shenanigans. But there is evidence they are beginning to get a clue.

Here is Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin, surely a representative of the mainstream media, taking issue with the reporting on the Shirley Sherrod matter:

…The Sherrod story is a reminder — much like the 2004 assault on John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — that the old media are often swayed by controversies pushed by the conservative new media. In many quarters of the old media, there is concern about not appearing liberally biased, so stories emanating from the right are given more weight and less scrutiny.

Additionally, the conservative new media, particularly Fox News Channel and talk radio, are commercially successful, so the implicit logic followed by old-media decisionmakers is that if something is gaining currency in those precincts, it is a phenomenon that must be given attention. Most dangerously, conservative new media will often produce content that is so provocative and incendiary that the old media find it irresistible.

So the news-and-information conveyor belt moves stories like the Sherrod case from Point A to Point Z without any of the standards or norms of traditional journalism, not only resulting in grievous harm to the apparently blameless, such as Sherrod, but also crowding out news about virtually anything else.

Political discourse in this country will not improve until responsible members of the media push back against the corporate shills who occupy editors’ desks and regain their commitment to telling the truth. Maybe Halperin’s piece is evidence of a nascent return to responsible journalism.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

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