KEEPING THE CUSTOMERS SATISFIED
THAT'S NOT THE WAY TO DO IT
The View from Here
Hall of Fame and legendary radio news man Fred Heckman was my news director as I was breaking into a major metropolitan news scene.
"If Democrats and Republicans are both bitching about you, if liberals think you're a conservative and conservatives think you're a liberal then you're doing a good job. We are an equal opportunity offender."
Long before Fred's advice I'd read the wisdom of the
old "Sage of Baltimore" H.L. Mencken. The journalist, editor, essayist said the role of a journalist was to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
Those formed my creedo in all of my years in journalism.
ENTER THE NEW AGE OF "NEWS"
I took delight in the story that university research finds that Fox News viewers are the least well informed.
Delight, I say, because Fox introduced deliberately staking out a political/philosophical position as a foundational rationale to their approach to news coverage.
Now some will argue "the liberal media bias" already existed and that Fox News was at least honest about where they were coming from. You might recall however they made their mantra "Fair and Balanced." In all honesty they were neither, but it was a brilliant positioning and marketing strategy developed by Roger Ailes. It immediately created the perception the other media was not fair or balanced.
Ailes started developing his idea when he was a partisan employee of Richard Nixon, the President with an enemies list, less than a harmonious relationship with the media, trouble with the truth and that little think called Watergate. Yes, that's when Ailes first started babbling about creating a network with a point of view.
My gripe is not so much with the politics as with the idea
of creating a "my side vs. your side" approach to news.
Back to the admonition of my old mentor. Doing it right has everyone angry at you. Conservatives, Republicans and right wingers probably find little to be upset with about Fox. But
perhaps now they should be. By adopting a "perspective" and hewing to a "party line" you destroy your claim to credibility
and damage the overall process. I'm not ignoring MSNBC.
They have responded by taking a liberal perspective.
Maybe in this age of satellite, cable, Internet and broadcast offerings there is room for networks who are lackeys for an ideology or point of view. Maybe, but they should not call themselves news or journalistic enterprises.
Bravo to the academics who are willing to test, measure and survey issues like quality of information, knowledge and such. Of course I can hear a few Fox viewers saying "well what do you expect from liberal academia?"
Roger Ailes is like putting draino in a wine bottle and calling it a well aged vintage. This report is a bit like a consumer taste test. Truth is just that.
A VISIT TO THE SHORE
How's that for a change of pace?
See you down the trail.
See you down the trail.