Roger L. Simon

Pajamas Media Question #1 - What Is "Fair and Balanced"?

For the second night… I should say morning… in a row, our family dog Zane Greyhound seems to have been overwhelmed by affection for his master at about 4:48AM and planted a big sloppy kiss on my face while I was fast asleep, shooting me bolt upright and propelling me into the bathroom for a washcloth. I couldn’t get back to sleep.

So here I am blogging… in my pajamas, of course… at five-thirty on Friday morning before Memorial Day weekend when any sane person would be dead to the world. But Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy, once wrote to take insomnia or sleep loss as opportunity to get more done, so I’m going to take a whack at it.

And since I am in my (now proverbial) pajamas, I am going to open up a can of worms on here… [Careful, bud.-ed.]… about Pajamas Media. A commenter the other day asked if we were going to be “fair and balanced.” At first I took umbrage. We’ve barely announced our existence, haven’t officially begun, haven’t even had a chance to have a full-fledged meeting of our editorial board that is spread out all the way from Knoxville to Sydney and some bozo’s asking if we’re “fair and balanced”?!

But in truth it’s a great question and we’ve been wrestling with it ever since we conceived the idea of starting the company. And with nearly 400 blogs already signed up and thousands more (we hope) to come, we ought to have some answers, at least tentative ones. Trouble is – it’s not so simple. Many established media companies across the political spectrum have asserted they were “fair and balanced” or something similar only to get pie in the face, figuratively and literally. And is “fair and balanced” even possible from a human endeavor?

Of course, in practice, we have been reaching out in all directions – in terms of ideology and blog subject – with some success. The effort is continuing. And, yes, the advertising and the news side of PJ will have different requirements. Still, the question remains with all its complex ramifications. Fortunately, I am only one of three Pajamas Media founders and an even smaller percentage of the editorial board and therefore not solely responsible for coming up with answers. In fact, the scope of this search goes well beyond our immediate management because Pajamas Media has three other, perhaps more important, constituencies to be considered – the bloggers, the advertisers and you, our readers.

Normally, as new companies evolve, they reach conclusions about matters like this through private discussion or closely-guarded focus groups. But the blogosphere in all its magnificent inter-activity is clearly different and a company that emerges from it should be too.

Toward that end I would like to start a conversation on the subject on here spread over several days. And I thank those in advance who would be kind enough to participate. Let’s start with the “Big Kahuna”… What does “fair and balanced” mean anyway?