Why should the media be impartial?

Looneys seem to think that blogs like Whaleoil should be impartial. In a sense it is, I have a crack at anyone who does anything stupid including National MPs and office holders.

For some reason this is seen as bad, and a lot of prissy people think impartiality is the route to heaven or something equally moronic. These morons should think about the United Kingdom broadsheet market, where the Times, Telegraph, Independent, Observer and Guardian all have clear editorial perspectives and are well known for promoting causes they believe in, like getting Labour elected or thrown out depending on the paper. Similar blogs like The Daily Dish and Andrew Bolt likewise eschew impartiality and embrace partiality.

They are not beyond having a go at their nominal political allies either. The Telegraph is giving the Tories beating over their planning changes with their Hands off our Land Campaign

The media market world wide is being dominated by people who take sides. Boring impartiality is a fast path to extinction. If you don’t like the approach this blog takes, go and read something else.


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  • James Stephenson

    Exactly right, we don’t need impartiality, just open and honestly-stated biases.

  • petal

    “blogs like Whaleoil should be impartial”

    Yeah, I picked up on that while checking out how boring the blog was. Although he made a fair point or two, he destroyed it by going over the top and making the whole thing too long.

    When putting forward an argument on bloggers raising standards you want to weed out things like insisting they are impartial [implied] like the MSM, because like True Science isn’t even close to Science, MSM output isn’t even close to impartial.

    And you know what Pete, readers know it.

  • The media is not impartial. Everybody knows that.

    The problem is that so many of them pretend to be objective when they’re clearly, by the way they write and think and report, far left loons. Its this pretense that rankles.

    That’s why the blogosphere arose. A few years the mainstream media was a tightly controlled institution that only permitted “approved” opinions and information to be published or broadcast. Now they’re getting the pay back for their contemptible attempts to censor and control.

  • Phronesis

    There is no such thing as an unbiased observer, no priviliged perspective on reality that is the “correct view”. No independent truth to be known. The “objectivity” of the MSM is a carefully constructed myth at best and an insidious attempt to control the masses at worst.

  • Looneys seem to think that blogs like Wha­le­oil should be impar­tial.

    Hey, if that’s meant to be a summary of my point of view, it’s sadly, woefully incorrect.

    Journalistic ‘impartiality’ is an illusion. I agree with Petal on that, and certainly I don’t advance it as a goal or standard (in fact, I blogged that “… a journalistic ‘aspiration’ for an appearance of impartiality can lead to very poor decisions.”

    I’m all for strongly expressed opinions and insights from a ‘position’, but not twisted statements dressed up as ‘facts’ or clobbering machines. That’s just my feedback.

    Here’s a quote from a news organisation‘s no-doubt-about-it aspirational primer for journalists (boo, hiss)

    There is no such thing as objectivity.
    • There is such a thing as fairness.
    • But everyone sees everything through their own filter. Acknowledge that, let it liberate you. Let it regulate you.
    • We are not guided by political identification, by ideology or dogma. But every decision we make, from what to cover to how to cover it, is made through our own subjective judgments.
    • We are guided by an ability to be transparent and independent, to clearly assess what’s going on in our community and have the courage to plainly state the truth.
    Tell the truth.
    • This means not being mealy mouthed and not being bias-bullied.
    • Stand up to bias bullies. Tell them why you did something. Let them challenge you on it.
    • If someone calls you biased, don’t be scared. Don’t dismiss it either. Reflect on it and answer with conviction.
    • Don’t go quote-hunting for something you know to be true and can say yourself. Don’t hide your opinion in the last quote of a story.
    • Take a stand when you know something to be true or wrong.

    I think that’s useful alongside the Code of Ethics for Citizen Jounalists I referred to.

    – Peter

    Let’s count: looney, prissy, moronic, boring, terminally dim … aw shucks.

    • oldlogger

      Yawn. As soon as I saw the bullet points, I stopped reading.

  • Phronesis

    Frankly Peter that statement is a load of inconsistant crap.

    “There is no such thing as objec­tiv­ity.” gets watered down to “We are guided by an abil­ity to be trans­par­ent and inde­pen­dent, to clearly assess what’s going on in our com­mu­nity”.

    That last statement is essentially a claim to a privileged perspective which only really works if you claim to be God.

    “have the courage to plainly state the truth. …Tell the truth.”

    The subjective “truth” then, not biased at all…

    • @Phronesis: Thanks for your comment.
      Yeah, that’s not how I would have said that bit about “guided by an ability…” either — but, as I see it, it’s an aspiration or ‘statement of principles’ rather than a claim.

      The distinction, for me, is letting go of any pretence of ‘objectivity’ and acknowledging we all ‘filter’ … but aiming for ‘fairness’. Despite our biases.


  • Pingback: New media – it’s not about being impartial | The Paepae()

  • Eric

    Wow! If this is the same peter Aranyi who used to be a journalist he sure is holier than thou. His view on the photo issue is sublimely ridiculous. As long as the photo does not lie then it does not matter who it came from. I saw it and applied the ‘duck test’ and it passed. The guy was campaigning while employed by the taxpayer. If it was taken on the weekend he would probably be on overtime. His criticism is a good example of what Mencken said “Criticism is prejudice made plausible. ” oh and by the way there was no attribution to the Photo of Cameron Diaz on his post….Pompous git

  • My biggest beef is with TV which I guess is the biggest news deliverer in the country. That is an assumption as I am not in journalism or PR so wouldn’t know for sure. Much of the TV audience would be completely reliant on TV as their main current affairs source not only from the news but also magazine programmes ranging from Close Up or Campbell Live to Q&A & The Nation.

    TV news seems to be editorially skewed, the content more suited to tabloids and the presenters & interviewers generally biassed to the left with their statements and questioning. Espiner, Sainsbury & Campbell can all turn an answer they did not want to hear by the tone in their voice, a lifted eyebrow or their general demeanour. Holmes on Q&A far prefers the sound of his own voice, a fault shared by both Campbell & Sainsbury.

    Mainstream TV news is pure trivia. Being a ‘rich prick’ I have recently invested in My Sky and now never watch the TV news live. Take a one hour news programme, edit the ads, scan the news items pausing to watch anything relevant, take in the finance bullet points, watch sport, the Auckland weather & ignore Close Up and a scheduled 90 minutes viewing is reduced to 20. To think that this force-fed crap is the major news source is a big worry indeed.

  • Hello Eric. 
    That is an excellent quote from HL Mencken about criticism. I agree. 

    I don’t agree re the public servant ‘campaigning on the taxpayer’ though, I think our definitions of one’s private time must differ. Likewise you may not think Cam slipped by not disclosing that Vote For Change Jordan Williams supplied him with the photo and ‘story’, but we see that differently. That might be partly given the context if my earlier questions about Cam’s … ‘efforts’ for the VFC campaign. 

    Eric, please look closer at the caption on the photo of Cameron Diaz (uh, not too close) — source attribution was noted and the photo itself hyperlinked to the source. (Not to say I’m 100% on the attribution score in every case, but I try. NBD.)


  • petal

    Peter, I like having a debate -love it in fact -, but in my suspicious mind this exercise is starting to look more like a marketing ploy for your blog.

    1. Come bully the bully, write about it on own blog, mention own blog
    2. ????
    3. Profit


  • Oh no! More comments about how people comment!  Pfft!

    “Bully the bully”???  Who, me?  ;-)  

    Seriously, Petal, nope, no such cynical insincere agenda.*

    Just like you, I sometimes enjoy debate — and I believe in being accountable for my statements, hence the traceability back to The Paepae. (I don’t do anonymous comments.) 

    Cam and a couple of ‘Army’ loyalists have indicated some of  my comments are perhaps too long for his blog’s comment stream, so sure, I’ve spilled over to my own blog for some reflections. But, hey, there’s no shortage of reference and interlinking back … and isn’t  that kinda sorta how the web works? 
    Hey, nice reference to South Park’s stealing underpants strategy, Petal.

    * But I do see why you might think that. 

    cheers, – P