Media Lens: How To Be A Reliable ‘Mainstream’ Journalist

8 November 2018 — Media Lens

There are certain rules you need to follow as a journalist if you are going to demonstrate to your editors, and the media owners who employ you, that you can be trusted.

For example, if you write about US-Iran relations, you need to ensure that your history book starts in 1979. That was the year Iranian students started a 444-day occupation of the US embassy in Tehran. This was the event that ‘led to four decades of mutual hostility’, according to BBC News. On no account should you dwell on the CIA-led coup in 1953 that overthrew the democratically-elected Iranian leader, Mohammad Mossadegh. Even better if you just omit any mention of this.

Continue reading

Media Lens: So What Is Objective Journalism?

21 March 2017 — Media Lens

‘Just The Facts, Ma’am’

So what is objective, impartial journalism?

The standard view was offered in 2001 by the BBC’s then political editor, Andrew Marr:

‘When I joined the BBC, my Organs of Opinion were formally removed.’ (Marr, The Independent, January 13, 2001)

And by Nick Robinson describing his role as ITN political editor during the Iraq war:

‘It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking… That is all someone in my sort of job can do.’ (Robinson, ‘”Remember the last time you shouted like that?” I asked the spin doctor’, The Times, July 16, 2004)

‘Just the facts, Ma’am’, as Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wryly describes this take on journalism. Continue reading

The Rise of Establishment Reporting: How a Crisis in Journalism Led to the “Cult of Balance” By John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney

10 November 2013 — Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

I.F. Stone

Journalism awards are named after I.F. Stone today, but major newspapers shunned him in his prime

A crisis in journalism lasted from the 1890s until the 1920s. Party-driven journalism had disintegrated, the increasingly lucrative and powerful newspaper magnates ruled their independent empires and exercised considerable political power, and the pursuit of profit sometimes led to an incredible, even appalling, journalism. Mounting public anger and dissatisfaction with the journalism of this era produced what became the first great existential crisis for journalism.

Continue reading