News like my diet; Fair & Balanced

Why do mainstream news outlets continue to feign objectivity and balance?

This is one of those “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain situations”…

Objectivity, balance, journalism. Whether you are Fox News, CNN, The New York Times, or The Washington Post, the facade of objectivity, the promise of balance is plastered everywhere. But … why?

People in the U.S. and by extension the mainstream media are polarized more so than in any time in the last 50 years. The availability of information is impressive. With this deluge of information there is no way any single media platform has the ability to write, opine and editorialize on all of it. Thankfully the soapbox that is the internet gives voice to so many.

With all of those voices now providing context and commentary on every topic we could imagine, why do main stream news outlets cling to the idea of some higher journalistic objectivity or balance. The idea that these journalists are anything more than story tellers, the same as any one of us, is crumbling. We all have a narrative that we support. We all have viewpoints and opinions we work to prove are true.

“We” includes organizations. Fox News, CNN, etc, these are all organizations that sell a certain narrative, that build a continuing but incomplete world for their viewers. These worlds are constructed according to unspoken rules and needs. Audiences are cultivated based on intellectual and social beliefs, being feed a carefully curated diet of information under the guise of “truth” and “balance”.

Consider the taglines of some, Fox News: “Fair and Balanced. Most Watched. Most Trusted.” CNN: “The Trusted Name in News” MSNBC: “Lean Forward”.

Based on Gallup polling I question how much “Trust” symbolism any of the big three should be utilizing.

Given that large media organizations are platforms for story telling and that these for profit entities derive their revenue from specific tranches of the populace there should be no surprise that each platform’s coverage of news skews to a certain side. There is financial incentive for each to build a world that supports their audiences reality. The necessity of feigning balance no longer exists.

Large news organizations have a credibility problem that continuing to feign objective journalism will not cure. Their smaller brethren have moved in a different direction, one that embraces transparency on where they sit so they maintain credibility on where they stand. It is time the larger organizations do the same.


Changing the algorithm… is it time?

For some of the smaller questions and discussions, I have been using Twitter at random times to see whats trending and then jump down a bit of a rabbit hole to find an interesting topic. One could call this my “algorithm” for finding interesting questions.

Saturday night’s trend when I opened Twitter was #poopnap. I don’t even know what that is.

Time for a new algorithm I think.


Quote of the Week

This comes courtesy of a chat with a fellow data scientist. From The Martian with Matt Damon.

“Gonna have to science the shit out of this".


Hey all, thanks for reading and being a subscriber to the newsletter. Second issue in the books, working to make each better than the last! Help me get better. Ideas for topics, notes on questions… please send them my way!


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@JWilcoxData