The Post’s error

Balance and ProportionI wanted to share a thought that’s been bugging me amid the furor surrounding the resignation of former Washingtonpost.com blogger Ben Domenech due to evidence that he plagiarized material in his younger years.

In hiring Domenech, Washingtonpost.com was clearly looking for an alternative to Dan Froomkin, who many see as a liberal. Problem: Domenech does not have any journalism in his background and never claimed or wanted to be a journalist. At best he was a commentator who is now going to have to rebuild his career from scratch thanks to what seems to be fairly obvious and egregious cases of ripping other people’s work. But why was it that Washingtonpost.com felt it needed to go outside journalistic circles to find a conservative to counterbalance what was a fairly obvious leftward tilt of Froomkin?

The assumption that mainstream journalism could not have a conservative blogger spills into the religion arena because I believe most decision makers at the major news organizations assume that their reporters are non-religious in the same way they assume that reporters in general could not be conservative.

Ideological balance at a newspaper — particularly on opinion columns and, now that newspapers are catching up with the digital age, blogs — is critical for a media organization that wants to maintain its claim to objectivity. But if Washingtonpost.com feels it needs to go outside journalism for political balance, I wonder where the editors think they need to go if they ever feel the need for more than a handful of staffers of one religious persuasion or another. I have it on good account that it does not represent America, or the demographics of the Washington metropolitan area.

I wonder where the New York Times is looking and, most important, are religious educational institutions ready to step up and support solid journalism programs?

Print Friendly

  • http://www.postwatchblog.com Christopher Fotos

    The issue of what kind of background a conservative post.com blogger should have is a worthy one, and others including Stephen Spruiell at NRO’s Media Blog have discussed it as well. But the notion that Red America was launched to counter Dan Froomkin bugs me a bit. It’s not just Froomkin. Not a single one of post.com’s numerous pure bloggers are conservative. All the bloggers with any kind of political tendency skew left. So this was one tiny little counterbalance.

  • Daniel

    I wonder whether another “affirmative action” hire will be able to overcome the pall created by Domenech. Even though those of us who support affirmative action believe that it doesn’t hamper quality, the whispering campaigns are hard to overcome.

  • http://www.physicsgeekjesusfreak.blogspot.com Matthew M.

    (slightly off-topic) “Aggregious” is egregious.

  • Jimmy Montague

    It seems to me that it ought to be enough for readers if a journalist simply tells the truth. So far as is apparent to me, professed liberals AND conservatives in this country are unwilling to see or deal with facts they find unpleasant. So they scream “BIAS!” whenever they read something with which they are uncomfortable.

    So in one way at least, the question you pose is apt: “Are religious educational institutions ready to step up and support solid journalism programs?” If their idea of a “solid journalism program” is one that abhors a rigorous separation of church and state, for example, then the obvious answer is: “No. They are not.”

  • Tom Breen

    It would be interesting to see if there’s anything for journalism students like Liberty University’s vaunted debate team. I guess the problem is that journalists, unlike debate teams, are supposed to strive for objectivity.

    Of course, on a lot of religious issues, journalists don’t even come close to striving for objectivity. The problem there seems to be basic ignorance, since many people in newsrooms don’t come from religious backgrounds. The solution, maybe, is for journalism programs to start teaching “Religion and the Press” classes the way they teach “Women and the Press” or “Minorities and the Press.” That might go some distance toward at least correcting a lot of the ignorant assumptions and unexamined biases of journalists when it comes to religion.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X