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Useful media criticism

Matt Thompson wrote a really good blog post a few weeks ago that I didn’t link to because I assumed everybody saw it, The 3 key parts of news stories you usually don’t get. It explains why people can watch the news on TV or read the newspaper and still not really understand the issues of the day. The argument is that the media tends to cover what’s happening right now without providing useful context or explaining the significance of the news.

I wanted to go back and link to Thompson’s article because it provides useful context for Matthew Yglesias’ explanation of why this is a big problem:

The bias toward process stories is not ideological in its intent, but it’s strongly ideological in its impact. Creating public confusion and ignorance while obscuring what’s really happening tends to favor elites versus people of modest means, it favors the status quo over change, it favors insiders over outsiders, and it favors narrow interests over the public interest.

This is why I read blogs. There are plenty of blogs that are just as focused on the day to day goings on of politics as any newspaper or cable news show, but I don’t read them. (It’s why I don’t subscribe to Think Progress any more.) I strongly prefer blogs that focus on digging into the substance of issues, and the good news is that there are plenty of them out there. Oddly enough, the newspaper that to me represents the worst journalism has to offer, the Washington Post, also employs one of the best public policy bloggers around — Ezra Klein.

2 Comments

  1. I didn’t see this. Thank you for posting it.

  2. Personally, this describes the reason I avoid anything published more frequently than a week. Anything shorter and the news budget allows narrowly focused, twitchy issues. But if you’ve only got thirty to fifty pages per week, you can only include the most consequential stories. At least, one would hope this to be the case. Seems to work for the Economist, though I’m sure there are counterexamples.

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