A Few New Year’s Resolutions for the MSM
Some helpful tips before the legacy media's next story goes unexpectedly so awry.
January 1, 2011 - 3:42 am
New Year’s resolutions aren’t meant to be made by third parties. But since the mainstream media continues to act against its core principles, an exception is in order.
That’s not to say these annual resolutions always last. How many people vow to lose 15 pounds and end up gaining a couple by the time swimsuit season arrives? The smoking industry would collapse if every smoker kept to his Jan. 1 quit date.
But a few hearty souls do stick to their resolutions, and perhaps some journalists will take the following to heart and really change in 2011.
1. Stop using terms like “unexpectedly” to describe economic downturns: It’s embarrassing to see journalists fall back on the adverb while detailing the flailing Obama economy. The experts consulted for these pieces seem a little less … expert … every time a new report confounds their predictions. Just report the latest figures and let readers decide if it’s “unexpected.”
2. Take global warming skeptics seriously: Just consider — if only as a wacky thought experiment — that the global warming movement isn’t based on rock-solid science. It’s not as if there are global warming activists admitting their wealth redistribution agendas, or emails pointing to scientists hiding temperature declines, or even leaders in the movement admitting there’s been no measurable warming over the past decade.
Now, use those high falutin’ journalistic instincts and be the first MSM outlet in town to crack the biggest story in ages. Sure, the conservative blogosphere beat you to it, but for your audience it’ll seem like a breaking news bombshell.
3. Don’t take Media Matters memos at face value: The liberal watchdog group routinely takes conservatives out of context to smear them. So when the group’s next email blast hits your inbox, do your due diligence and find the full quotes — and context — before rushing to judgment.
4. Read the Drudge Report: Reporters are often buried in assignments, so one can understand they don’t have enough time to read all the helpful articles scattered across the Web. That’s where Matt Drudge comes in. He links to some of the most intriguing new stories you’ll find online, many of which don’t take the standard liberal line. It only takes 30-odd seconds to scan his site. One less Facebook update and you’ve got all the time you need.
5. Get angry when you get beat: Once upon a time reporters would lose their cool if they got beat on a big story. Today, that’s not the case if the story in question puts Democrats in an unflattering light. Van Jones?
The ClimateGate emails? The Pigford farm scandal? All either ignored or brushed aside by the MSM for days, sometimes weeks, before they got around to reporting them.
Get mad, and then go investigate these stories and break fresh news from them. That’s what you’re supposed to do. And don’t complain about not having enough bodies to do the necessary digging. Pull a few reporters from either the Kate Gosselin or Tiger Woods beat and have at it.
6. Follow through on stories that matter: This one’s aimed at the Washington Post, but other outlets should also take heed. If you’ve got a killer story, follow up on it. When the Post reported on Sen. George Allen using the term “Macaca” to describe a member of his opponent’s team in 2006, the newspaper followed it up with literally dozens of stories across the paper — from A1 to the Style section.
How many stories has the Post run in the wake of its first-class expose on racist behavior in the Obama Justice Department?
7. Try a little consistency: Media outlets piled on Andrew Breitbart for (allegedly) taking Shirley Sherrod’s NAACP speech out of context earlier this year. Reporters used the incident to attempt to discredit the provocative Internet journalist. But where’s the outrage when more entrenched outlets like MSNBC routinely do the same, if not worse, to conservative targets?
8. Watch Fox News: If you made widgets, and a fellow widget maker beat you in sales nine years in a row, it might be smart to examine that company’s business model.
9. Don’t ask Palin if she’s running for president: Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin may seek the presidency in 2012. But you can be darned sure she’s not going to reveal her intentions off the cuff to an MSM reporter. So stop asking. It’s not cute. It’s desperate and offers the news consumer nothing of substance.
10. Plug it in: Here’s a resolution specifically for The Gray Lady. Way back in 2009, New York Times managing editor Jill Abramson vowed to assign a colleague to peruse the conservative side of the blogosphere so it wouldn’t get beat on stories like the ACORN scandal.
In 2011, please connect said editor’s computer monitor to the Internet.