May 26, 2005

JAY ROSEN HAS THREE QUESTONS FOR KEVIN DRUM:

Is the press, properly understood, a political animal?

If so, what kind of politics should it have?

How do we know if the press has got the politics part right?

Jay also asks for opinions from others, including me. I don’t usually blog on request, but this is interesting.

I think that the press is unavoidably political. What has bothered people (and what gets Kevin heated up about “the right wing press destruction machine”) is that until recently the politics were pretty uniformly left-leaning, to the point that the press became a well-defined political player on its own. Not for nothing does Howard Feinman write about the “Media Party.” Now that’s changing (this is the part that has Kevin heated up) and things that used to go unchallenged and unremarked are now challenged and remarked upon. This makes things seem more politicized, but what’s really changed is that people are talking about the politics, where before they were implicit.

What kind of politics should it have? Non-monolithic, and transparent. If, as First Amendment theory suggests, the marketplace of ideas is a check on the political power of an unelected press, then we need diversity of perspective and a willingness of press organs to criticize each others’ reporting.

How do we know when the press has it right? When we’ve got news organs representing a diversity of perspectives. We’re making progress in that direction, but we’re a long way from getting there.

UPDATE: Ernest Miller: “No one asked me, but I’ll go ahead and give my answers anyway.”