Today is Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton’s last day. You can read his memo to staff here.
To mark it, I’m ruminating on a Twitter exchange I happened across last night. So telling. It begins with John McCormack, a reporter for The Weekly Standard, writing:
Politico article on abortion issue includes two quotes–one from Planned Parenthood and one, for balance, from ACLU
It’s a particularly bad example of what we see on abortion coverage every day, as well as coverage of many other hot-button issues commonly found on beats linked to religion and politics. Even though this is only six paragraphs long, it’s a bad example.
But what I found interesting was the response from Andrew Kaczynski, a reporter for the supposedly mainstream Buzzfeed:
Lot of balance in those Weekly Standard Chuck Hagel stories.
This is a reference to The Weekly Standard‘s work opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. But the Standard (where my better half works) is an avowedly conservative opinion journal. It’s whole purpose is to spread adoption of a particular set of conservative values.
Do you see the problem here?
BuzzFeed and Politico (and the Washington Post, and countless other media outlets) present themselves as mainstream media outlets doing straight news. I’ll let Twitter do my work for me:
@QuinHillyer Weekly Standard is an opinion journal. Politico claims to be straight news. Big difference in what’s expected
@McCormackJohn Well, at least they’re more balanced than Buzzfeed’s articles on gay marriage. Also: We don’t pretend we’re not ideological.
@IMAO_ He’s very clearly saying that Politico is as partisan as the Weekly Standard.
We’ve been talking about this a lot recently, because it’s a major change in the stated objectives of mainstream media. This is also a topic closely linked to media-bias studies about religion news.