“The news media is not really expected to be “unbiased” or “fair and balanced”. The industry arose because people had axes to grind. In spite of the J-school emphasis on impartiality, reporting and opining both reflect the writer’s biases. All we can ask is that writers and announcers identify those particular biases so that we can adjust accordingly. And editors and publishers should do likewise.

“Reliance upon subscriber revenues does tend to remove the pronounced problem of offending large advertisers. I tend to agree that the “Times” should charge more rather than less for their paper, at the same time providing honest, even though biased most of the time. But the product for which we pay should provide fair value.”

Doug Morrisey

Health Care and the Massachusetts Senate Race

On Tuesday, Trudy Lieberman wrote about the role health care played in the Martha Coakley-Scott Brown Senate race in Massachusetts, and some lingering questions regarding an insurance provider/health care system collusion investigation.

“Re this post’s sub-title “What’s bothering folks up there, anyway?”, I’d say it’s much of what Trudy points out in this post. It’s also that many voters don’t trust what’s being said publicly by the health “reformers” (politicians in Congress) when that’s placed alongside what’s actually being done behind closed doors where the health policy is crafted. The “reform” bills that came out of each branch of Congress favor the interests of the medical-industrial complex above the needs of the average American! Yes, there’s some good in each bill but there’s a lot that’s pretty awful.

“I consider myself an Independent and that’s my baseline political registration here in Massachusetts. I’m a creative thinker who values humanitarian ethics blended with fiscal responsibility. I’ve worked in health care for 30 years, 15 of those as a Master’s prepared nurse.

“I’m one of the 60-70% of voters who support a “robust” public option in health reform. The majority of voters recognize the value of this cost-saving option. Many of us who are under 65 want the option not have our healthcare dollars run through a private insurance company.

“Why not explore the common-sense solution of looking at how to improve Medicare so that it’s both more comprehensive in benefits and standards to not pay in open-ended fashion for unneccessary and/or harmful medical services (e.g. the McAllen TX phenomenon as profiled by surgeon Atul Gawande in the New Yorker)? Then open up Medicare to all who want to pay in.

“American Medicare for all who want to participate is an obvious policy option for national health system reform.

“I predict there will be a growing demand for the choice of a more cost-effective model of providing comprehensive health insurance, such as improved Medicare-fo-All.

“Bold and sustained leadership from our elected leaders to make this reform happen would be the real silver lining in the Massachusetts vote.”

Ann Malone RN

Character Studies

On CJR’s books blog, Steve Weinberg reviewed David Maraniss’s Into the Story: A Writer’s Journey Through Life, Politics, Sports and Loss, an anthology of the journalist’s work.

“Dispassionate detachment required to create an honest assessment and profile of any public figure is a method that Maraniss does well enough to be noticed and might be incorporated as its own course at Columbia Journalism simply because bias is so easy to cultivate in print or in media. Special training may be required in order to prevent falling victim into being the horn of that bias rather than the introspective skeptic that good authors strive to be.

“While we can’t know everything at the moment since so much depends upon facts that are obscure or situations we cannot possibly know about, the projection of favorable or unfavorable reporting is always the trap for the unwary journalist and can ruin careers by later destroying credibilty of the journalist by going out on those limbs. Training courses for protection of journalist methods would go far to provide a consistent approach to articles and works worthy of the public’s time and attention. So many seem to rely upon political or social persecution for notoriety. Fast profits through muckraking are easy; Steady profits through insight are not but serve humanity better and could be cultivated as the professional approach to topics, people, and events.”


Time the Conquerer

Encore Fellow Jill Drew’s newspaper-reading ritual and her thoughts on reading a print product in a time-crunched world got readers talking about their own—and greater America’s&;mdash;reading habits.

Kimberly Chou is a writer in New York.