Saturday, April 24, 2004

Followup: Journalistic Bias

Thanks to Jemima Periera for the link to this post about journalist bias in the media.
In thirty years of in the writing trades, I’ve covered a lot of things, but three in particular: The military, the sciences, and the police. For years I had a military column syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate and later carried by the Army Times papers until I was fired for political incorrectness. For half a dozen years I rode with the cops all around the country for my police column in the Washington Times. And I’ve written tech columns and pieces for technical mags like Signal forever.

This isn’t my first rodeo.

In each case the reporters I met were, with very few exceptions, pig ignorant. The military reporters didn’t know the history, the weaponry, the technology, strategy, tactics, or how soldiers work. Almost none had served. The police reporters chased scanners instead of riding regularly and just didn’t know what was out there or who cops are or why they act as they do. The tech writers were mostly history majors.

Over the years I’ve noticed several things. First, in print publications, most reporters aren’t very smart. A few are very bright, but probably through a mistake in hiring. (The prestigious papers are exceptions, hiring Ivy League snots of the sort who viscerally dislike soldiers, cops, rural people, guns, etc.) Reporting requires assertiveness and willingness to deal with tedious material under pressure of deadlines. These qualities seldom come bundled with inquiring intelligence. Consequently reporters (again with the occasional exception) lack curiosity, and don’t read in their fields.
Ouch! Make sure to read Jemima's thoughts as well.

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