Friday, August 13, 2004

Journalists and Pro Wrestlers

Ken Rodriguez, a sports writer who took over the metro column at the Express-News when Rick Casey left, today slanders all journalists by comparing them to pro wrestlers. Rodriguez claims that the media is finally revealing that it has a leftist bias and compares it to wrestlers admitting that their matches are fake and scripted.

That is quite a slap in the face from a fellow journalist who really should know better. I’ve been a journalist now for 14 years and I obviously have liberal political beliefs, but that does not mean that I am incapable of being professional in my work and writing news stories that are free of bias and opinion. I have worked in some very conservative communities for most of my career - Kerrville, Lubbock - and have never once been accused of being biased in my reporting. But obviously Rodriguez doesn’t believe this is possible. Maybe as a sports writer he is incapable of writing about a game between two teams without making it clear to the reader which of the two teams he favors. But most good reporters are capable of doing just that.

To make his case, Rodriguez points to the New York Times’ as one example. Well, yes, the NYT should be viewed as a “liberal” paper in the same way that the Wall Street Journal is viewed as a “conservative” paper. But that pertains mainly to the editorial pages and should not (and in most cases does not) make a difference for the straight news reporting which is excellent for both papers.

He also points us to a study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors that showed that most journalists are more liberal than their readers. But the study does not say that the work performed by these reporters is biased. To the contrary, most liberal journalists go out of their way to avoid even the slightest hint of liberal bias (and will even add a helping of conservative bias) to avoid the scolding they would recieve from right-wing “watchdog” groups that constantly attack the media for being too liberal.

But the most interesting thing about Rodriguez’ column is who he taps to support his claim not just that reporters tend to be liberal, but that their output is biased and untrustworthy (like the phony pro wrestlers) - He looks to the conservative editorial page at the Dallas Morning News, conservative Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson and Charles Krauthammer, another conservative Washington Post columnist.

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