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Independent World Television
June 13, 2005 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Building a Left Wing CNN Toronto documentary film maker Paul Jay has a vision -- to build the first global independent news network. If successful, Independent World Television would be fully funded by its viewers, independent of corporate or government funding and commercial advertising. Here's the pitch: "If half a million people in the entire world contribute just $50, IWTnews will secure the $25 million it needs to fund its first year of broadcasting, in 2007."

Will this model work?
posted by btwillig (69 comments total)

 
CNN is an acronym, and thus should be in all caps.

I'm conservative in my grammar.
posted by MrLint at 10:24 AM on June 13, 2005


500,000 people donating $50 each? Not bloody likely it's going to work.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 10:27 AM on June 13, 2005


CNN is an acronym, and thus should be in all caps.

ooops
posted by btwillig at 10:30 AM on June 13, 2005


Yes! I am so tired of Right Wing Demagoguery and talking heads! The obvious solution is Left Wing Demagogues and talking heads!
Our salvation is nigh! Soon we can listen to dumbasses WE AGREE WITH! yay!
posted by freebird at 10:31 AM on June 13, 2005


what freebird said.
posted by jonmc at 10:33 AM on June 13, 2005


I admire the intention, and agree with the premise, but I don't think that having the backing of big corporations inherently means that a news network is corrupt. Looking at their website, it basically says "we will be completely fair becuase we won't have any corporate backers."

Audience supported != Fair
posted by menace303 at 10:35 AM on June 13, 2005


I think you meant to ask: Will this model are it work?
posted by shambles at 10:35 AM on June 13, 2005


I think you meant to ask: Will this model are it work?

*sigh*

You're right. What can I say, it's monday morning.
posted by btwillig at 10:38 AM on June 13, 2005


They might get their $$$, if Pledge Bank works out. I know I'd pledge, if I wasn't concavely broke.
posted by modernerd at 10:55 AM on June 13, 2005


No. Left wing doesn't mean anti capitalist.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:00 AM on June 13, 2005


Will this model it work?

Absolutely it not.
posted by handshake at 11:02 AM on June 13, 2005


CNN is an abbreviation. An acronym is a term that can be spoken [e.g., AIDS is an acronym; ADD is an abbreviation.]
posted by Sassenach at 11:04 AM on June 13, 2005


Audience supported != Fair

True, but it's better than the current alternative, which is corporate and/or capitalist sponsored. It all depends on the ratio of big backers (and their relative bigness) to the total number of financial supporters.

It's grassroots economics in the frying pan, and I wish them well. I'd have to read more before I decide to chip in.

Toronto Star article.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:09 AM on June 13, 2005


What about a No Bullshit network instead of a Left or Right network? I'd pay more than 50 bucks a year for an honest-to-god No Bullshit network.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:15 AM on June 13, 2005


I share the general level of scepticism, but I do take the idea more seriously after reading the list of sponsors. There are some pretty bright people there.

The problem with being viewer funded, is that you have great incentive to please your audience. I can see the developing world being ignored because the contributions would be smaller than those from a wealthy nation.

But it's an interesting idea.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 11:16 AM on June 13, 2005


The backing of large corporations is very close to a guarantee of corruption for a news program, because by now the corporations have no compunction about adding conditions to their backing. Most news outlets are run by businessmen rather than journalists, so they see no problem with accepting those business deals, for the benefit of shareholders.

Of course, the removal of corporate backing is only the removal of one source of corruption, so it's no guarantee of objectivity.
posted by Happy Monkey at 11:20 AM on June 13, 2005


I wouldn't be too worried about 'Left Wing Demagogues/Dumbasses' -- such as myself -- agreeing on anything, in toto, that would find fist-pumping consensus with a broad audience. No matter how diversity-tolerant & liberal. Unless it was along the lines of "Bush is a Poopy-Head."
posted by Haruspex at 11:21 AM on June 13, 2005


eustacescrubb: Bullshit is in the eye of the beholder. To me, everything on FOX is bullshit. To many conservatives, everything on NPR is bullshit.

ABC, CBS, and NBC are moderate but the right never stops complaining about them as "liberal" media. You don't get out from under the right's sights unless you come to them hat in hand, and beg to help them.

You don't stop coming off as "conservative" to people like me unless you are willing to challenge the powers that be.

A "one size fits all" approach won't accomodate either wing, and I haven't heard moderates complaining about a lack of media. I agree in principle, if someone sponsored a "bullshitless" network, they'd be pounded by the conservatives, or ignored by the progressive liberals.

To stand with one is to stand against the other, and to stand with neither is to be suspected by both.
posted by modernerd at 11:22 AM on June 13, 2005


[e.g., AIDS is an acronym; ADD is an abbreviation.]
Ok, , if no one else wants to bite, I will.

An acronym is the concatenation of all the first letters of the important words in a phrase, for example, AIDS, ADD, CNN, AFAIK, LOL.

And abbreviation is a shortening of a word, as in "re" for regarding, or "abbrev" for abbreviation
posted by Capn at 11:23 AM on June 13, 2005


I shouldn't think so, though it might work if there was a guarantee the money would be refunded in full if they didn't get their half million people.

Or, as modernnerd points out, maybe Pledgebank could get involved somewhere.

Oh, and sort of on a tangency : saw this over on Daily Kos:

Of the twenty-four liberal blogs in the top quintile, Dailykos, TPM Café, Smirking Chimp, Metafilter, BooMan Tribune, MyDD, and Dembloggers are full-fledged community sites where members cannot only comment, but they can also post diaries / articles / polls.

Yay. We're in the top 24 :)
posted by kaemaril at 11:25 AM on June 13, 2005


To me, everything on FOX is bullshit. To many conservatives, everything on NPR is bullshit.

When I say no bullshit, I mean no lies, no fluff, no pundits, no killing/running stories because they do/don't support an ideological position or because they're not "sexy." I mean fact checking. I mean when pundits and ideologues bring the talking points the anchors do their fucking jobs and bring the facts in reply. I mean when chandidates bring static and mudslinging, the anchors debunk the lies from both sides and redirect to sensible topics.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:30 AM on June 13, 2005


I'd like to point out (before anyone else) the spelling error in my title.

I think that about covers all of them.
posted by btwillig at 11:30 AM on June 13, 2005


capn: dictionary.com disagrees, and I have to say I agree with it, especially since one of its examples is directly on point:

Abbreviation
A shortened form of a word or phrase used chiefly in writing to represent the complete form, such as Mass. for Massachusetts or USMC for United States Marine Corps.

Acronym
A word formed from the initial letters of a name, such as WAC for Women's Army Corps, or by combining initial letters or parts of a series of words, such as radar for radio detecting and ranging.

Though I should point out that:
a) The TLA (three letter acronym) has rather muddied the difference between the two these days
b) These days, very few people are all that bothered about it :)
posted by kaemaril at 11:34 AM on June 13, 2005


An acronym is a pronounceable word formed from the initial letter or letters of the constituent words, such as NATO (nay-toe), and an initialism is an abbreviation pronounced as the names of the individual letters, and is formed only from the initial letter of constituent words, such as TLA (tee el ay). This distinction is supported by many dictionary definitions, but not by all.

Now drop it, you big nerds.
posted by Hlewagast at 11:37 AM on June 13, 2005


Hlewagast: I resent that! I'm actually only a little nerd! :)
posted by kaemaril at 11:40 AM on June 13, 2005


Here's an idea. How about, instead of relying on donations of $50.00 from individuals, you divide the company into discreet investment packets that the public can "share" and then "hold"? Or buy and sell as they please? As the company grows, these shared packets will increase in value, thereby increasing personal "shareholder" return. That way everybody gains in a never-ending spiral of increasing value. And when everybody's winning - as everyody clearly would in this scheme - how could corruption ever gain a foothold? Okay, first we need to attract a top-drawer maverick CEO...
posted by palinode at 11:40 AM on June 13, 2005


When I say no bullshit, I mean no lies, no fluff, no pundits, no killing/running stories because they do/don't support an ideological position or because they're not "sexy."

Nobody would watch it except the people who already don't bother with FOX/CNN/KPWWOTWN (Kidnapped Pretty White Woman Of The Week Network.) Net gain in educated consumers: 0. Net profits: negative.
posted by callmejay at 11:40 AM on June 13, 2005


They can't have my 50$ until they promise this won't be anything like AirAmericaRadio.
posted by joelr at 11:41 AM on June 13, 2005


Bullshit is in the eye of the beholder. To me, everything on FOX is bullshit. To many conservatives, everything on NPR is bullshit.

I completely disagree. Bullshit is bullshit. Yes, bullshit comes from both sides, but that doesn't imply that it comes in equal measures.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:46 AM on June 13, 2005


Bullshit is in the eye of the beholder. To me, everything on FOX is bullshit. To many conservatives, everything on NPR is bullshit.

I think most sensible people keep the salt shaker handy when listening to either. That's just good sense. I was on a long car ride with my dad recently and he listened to both Rush Limbaugh and NPR and snickered and chuckled at both. But the point is, true bias-free journalism would be very difficult to acheive, I think, but as long as everyone is up front about where they stand, then it's all good.
posted by jonmc at 12:10 PM on June 13, 2005


But the point is, true bias-free journalism would be very difficult to acheive, I think, but as long as everyone is up front about where they stand, then it's all good.

There's a difference between having a natural bias color your reporting and purposefully distorting the facts and engaging in sophistry to push a particular POV.
posted by callmejay at 12:15 PM on June 13, 2005


Thinking people still watch TV?
posted by chibikeandy at 12:30 PM on June 13, 2005


Here's an idea. How about, instead of relying on donations of $50.00 from individuals, you divide the company into discreet investment packets that the public can "share" and then "hold"?

Because, maybe, a donation comes without strings attached, while a shareholder would expect a little something in return. And a company that was trying to come up with something (money, perhaps?) in return might be a little bit tempted to maybe sell out any sort of standards and integrity that they have in order to make a quick buck at the expense of their viewers.
posted by bashos_frog at 12:31 PM on June 13, 2005


I just honestly don't understand this fringe that thinks that FOX is just a right wing version of NPR.

NPR, as far as I know, doesn't make up news, kowtow to any segment of the political spectrum and upholds journalistic principles.

Am I just wrong on this?
posted by bshort at 12:33 PM on June 13, 2005


I just honestly don't understand this fringe that thinks that FOX is just a right wing version of NPR.

C'mon, bshort, don't be disingenous. They don't pretend to be objective like FoxNews does, but there's definitely a fairly strong left wing point of veiw at work there, and like I said before, there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on June 13, 2005


An acronym is a pronounceable word formed from the initial letter or letters of the constituent words, such as NATO (nay-toe), and an initialism is an abbreviation pronounced as the names of the individual letters, and is formed only from the initial letter of constituent words, such as TLA (tee el ay). This distinction is supported by many dictionary definitions, but not by all.

Now drop it, you big nerds


Hlewegast wins. OED and American Heritage both cite initialism as the CNN, ABC, ASPCA type of abbreviation, though it seems that they would also support the use of acronym in that place also.

Both words are relative neologisms; first usage of initialism is cited in OED as 1899, then more specifically after 1965. Acronym's first citation in OED is 1943.
posted by beelzbubba at 12:38 PM on June 13, 2005


This thing is DOA if it's called a left-wing CNN, especially by the guy who starts it.

Objectivity is neither left nor right. Someone oughtta like, tell the guy.

Anyone else given up on news entirely? I have my books and my PlayStation, all that's missing is the cottage on some remote coast and I am done with all of these fools.
posted by xmutex at 12:39 PM on June 13, 2005


The problem is that everyone wants a news organization that says what they want it to say. Paul Jay didn't say he wanted a CNN that tells the objective truth, he said he wanted one that was left wing. So basically he wants a FOX of his very own. What good does that do? The left will watch their station, and the right will watch theirs. But just tell the news, and tell it well, and maybe people will come.
posted by unreason at 12:44 PM on June 13, 2005


They don't pretend to be objective like FoxNews does, but there's definitely a fairly strong left wing point of veiw at work there, and like I said before, there's nothing wrong with that.

See, I completely disagree with that. NPR seems to bend over backwards to make sure that all the various sides of a debate are represented.

"Earth Round? Views Differ."
posted by bshort at 12:45 PM on June 13, 2005


It's not even so much in the way you present the news that gives the impression of bias; it's how much time you give to certain events. Fox News could spend an hour showing Bill Frist and W. discussing the perils of social security and their guiding light of a solution whereas NPR might spend the same hour telling you how many people died and what godawful things happened around the globe in the areas in which the United States has a heavy military presence (everywhere?).

People then react to that, fairly or not.
posted by xmutex at 12:50 PM on June 13, 2005


OK, so say they get the first year paid for. Then what? Are they going to have to have one of those annoying pledge drives like PBS/NPR? God, I can only imagine, PBS is bad enough an they have corporate and government underwriting! I guess this is good news for the Riverdance folks, they always seem to get air time around pledge time.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:52 PM on June 13, 2005


This thing is DOA if it's called a left-wing CNN, especially by the guy who starts it.

I don't think those are his words, it's the title of the article I linked to by Donald Gutstein. On preview, what unreason said.
posted by btwillig at 12:53 PM on June 13, 2005


it's how much time you give to certain events

In other words, by focusing on facts rather than opinions, NPR is giving the impression of bias.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2005


Incidentally, this may be a bit off topic, but I think that Fox News' meteoric rise has less to do with its obvious bias, and more to do with the crappiness that is CNN. If I turn on to Fox News, chances are that they're talking about...the news. They might be lying, but they're talking about it. If I go to CNN, they'll be talking about sports. Followed by human interest stories and ads/segments on the lastest movies and CDs. The reason I think that Fox does so well is because to a large extent it is now the only news network available.
posted by unreason at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2005


See, I completely disagree with that. NPR seems to bend over backwards to make sure that all the various sides of a debate are represented.

Well, then we must have listened to a completely different station, then (and I'm record as disliking both NPR and FOXNEWS but for completely different reasons). And while they may not be blatant about their biases, and may even attempt to allow some opposing views, an even cursory look at the programming and guests shows that the station is aimed squarely at an affluent, educated liberal audience. So it's not likely that they'd want to alienate that audience.

But like I said there's nothing intrinsically wrong with journalism with a point-of-veiw, as long as it dosen't pretend to be objective, which FOX does.
posted by jonmc at 12:58 PM on June 13, 2005


See, I completely disagree with that. NPR seems to bend over backwards to make sure that all the various sides of a debate are represented.

Well, that's because you're part of that "frindge" you talked about earlier (just the other side).
posted by justgary at 12:59 PM on June 13, 2005


It's not even so much in the way you present the news that gives the impression of bias; it's how much time you give to certain events. Fox News could spend an hour showing Bill Frist and W. discussing the perils of social security and their guiding light of a solution whereas NPR might spend the same hour telling you how many people died and what godawful things happened around the globe in the areas in which the United States has a heavy military presence (everywhere?).

One of those two things is actually news. Guess which one it is?

Everyone's actually forgotten what news is, which is why you're able to say what you just did and really mean it. If the US military has a heavy presence in a country (i.e., it having invaded/occupied/freed Iraq and now being at war there) and people die TODAY, then that's NEWS. It's something New that happened Today. If Bush is talking about social security (let me guess, personal accounts?) then that's Not News, since is isn't something New Today.

When godawful shit happens, it isn't NPR's fault, but it is their responsibility to report on it, since it Actually Happened.
posted by odinsdream at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2005


Well, that's because you're part of that "frindge" you talked about earlier

that's stretching it, justgary. NPR definitely leans to the left, but it's the mainstream, of-this-Earth left, not the ANSWER/ELF type fringe.
posted by jonmc at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2005


Pollomacho: But both events (Frist's diatribe about social security and blown-apart bodies in Iraq) are factual things. Both networks would likely cover them. However, Fox News may give an hour to Frist and then barely mention the Iraq troubles, whereas NPR might allot their time in the opposite manner. Hence, cries of bias.

There's one rotten truth at the core of this: there's no such thing as objective journalism. And there never has been. It's like one Plato's forms, something to be aspired to, but never ever ever has it been achieved.

The perception of bias is the reality of bias.
posted by xmutex at 1:11 PM on June 13, 2005


Well, that's because you're part of that "frindge" you talked about earlier (just the other side).

But I'm not. Not even vaguely.

I mean, have you ever listened to NPR, with their *facts*?

Vs. Fox, with their falsehoods?
posted by bshort at 1:13 PM on June 13, 2005


Well until we have "IWT," we have Amy Goodman. www.democracynow.org

*this is off topic*
/ok i should have used html but the process is on the othercomputer and I didnt feel like walking there.
posted by wheelieman at 1:17 PM on June 13, 2005


Objective journalism is a myth perpetuated by college professors all across the land. To be objective, there must be no skew, no bias, no nothing, just a clear and accurate reporting of the facts relayed with words that do not incline towards or away from one's beliefs.

I like the idea of an independent news agency but it would objective for about three seconds before the spin began.

But I'd pay $50 to get Fox News off the air, is there a Pledge Bank for that yet?
posted by fenriq at 1:17 PM on June 13, 2005


God Bless America
posted by wheelieman at 1:17 PM on June 13, 2005


Anyone who wants to compare Fox with NPR with regards to how objective they are can just do the following exercise.

Coompare the number of hours spent covering the following stories:
Whitewater
Travelgate
Monica L. (pre impeachment)
Enron
Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib
Downing Street Memo

I think you will find that NPR covered the first three stories a lot more heavily than Fox covered the last three. And don't even start me on the Swift boat folks.

Back on topic, I don't want to see a liberal or left CNN, but I would like to see a No BS network, that rigorously checked facts, and doggedly pursued stories, no matter who complained. I think that getting corporations out of the mix would help this, but the cynic in me says that this idea will never fly.
Maybe if someone came up with a way to buy ad time at a flat rate, uninfluenced by ratings, and with a contract that made it difficult to bully the network over controversy, it might have a chance.
posted by bashos_frog at 1:26 PM on June 13, 2005


I find it hilarious (ok, just sad), when Americans believe that NPR is somehow "left-wing". To my ears, its hopelessly conservative, not in the sense of right-wing ideologue / fascist, but in its catering to a very specific demographic that seems to be best described by "upper middle class suburbanites in Connecticut."

Anyways, reading the TorStar article linked mid-thread, it sounds like the fella is *not* out to produce "left-wing" or "progressive" news, but critical, no sacred cows, no one above reproach kind of journalism. So I wish him good luck.

Of course, I for one will continue to mostly listen to the CBC and BBC, because these actually public, tax-funded broadcasters have done far better at providing serious news, analysis and a willingness to be critical of the powers that be than corporate networks (or even NPR). Does anyone find it ironic that during the run-up to and aftermath of the Iraq war, the (government funded) BBC was far harder on Blair than the (private) US networks that tripped over themselves to put on their kneepads to service Bush?
posted by bumpkin at 1:27 PM on June 13, 2005


Well until we have "IWT," we have Amy Goodman. www.democracynow.org
Offtopic, but good lord, that woman needs some public speaking lessons. She may be reporting on under-reported things, and I may even want to hear about those things, but when she's continually tripping over her own words, its pretty unpleasant to listen to.
posted by heydanno at 1:35 PM on June 13, 2005


I think you meant to ask: Will this model are it work?

Erm, no. That sentence, as revised, makes no grammatical sense whatsoever.

"Will this model work?" is fine, as is 'With this model, will it work?" However, "Will this model are it work?" is broken.

:-)
posted by Chasuk at 3:09 PM on June 13, 2005


""Will this model work?" is fine, as is 'With this model, will it work?" However, "Will this model are it work?" is broken."

It was referring to the FPP before Jessamyn fixed my typos. I believe he/she was just having some fun.
posted by btwillig at 3:18 PM on June 13, 2005


fenriq: Objective journalism is a myth perpetuated by college professors all across the land.

Politely, I respond, BS. Which college professors, where? I have NEVER taken a j-class where the prof did NOT stress that subjectivity comes into everything! The only claim they might make for objectivity is in a local news report, and even then, they teach that the subjectivity comes in with which facts are edited out, which are kept.

They will, however, stress that the reporter is NOT to offer conjecture, but to present the facts available. Far cry from perpetuating a myth of objectivity.

And...I've taken four journalism classes at the upper & graduate level and have taught a basic journalism course.
posted by beelzbubba at 3:30 PM on June 13, 2005


""Will this model work?"

This model, it vibrates?
posted by beelzbubba at 3:32 PM on June 13, 2005


"to stand with neither is to be suspected by both."
- Best place to be.

"NPR definitely leans to the left"
I'd echo your completely different station comment jonmc. I'd agree it's aimed at the educated and monied folks though. But I don't see how a piece on say the brain interviewing scientists represents a leftist point of view. Oh, wait, yeah I do.


"there's no such thing as objective journalism."
horseshit xmutex .

"Objective journalism is a myth perpetuated by college professors all across the land."
There are journalists doing that every day, fenriq. Nonbiased reporting of the straight facts in clear concise sentences that do not reflect any belief held by the writer other than commitment to the truth and the clarity of the information. I readily concede there is plenty of bad journalism around though.
The reiteration of the "Earth round? Views differ" schtick is a response to the mindset illustrated by xmutex's comment that the perception of bias is the reality of bias.

If, say, as a forward observer I come back to the HQ and say there is a column moving up the road, heavily armed, about 150 troops - etc. etc. - you don't have some idiot arguing with me saying I'm only saying that because I'm afraid to go down that road and besides the enemy is too stupid to drive tanks.
But you do have people reporting in the same way the straight facts and saying "this happened" and others arguing about it.
Forcrying out loud we have debate about solid scientific models in this country, how can those percieving bias on the other side be considered in any way legitimate?
I agree with Machiavelli, perception is reality. But that is only in politics because politics is artifice. It aims at misrepresenting the world. If you take that as the basis of your reality, then of course there is no objective perspective.
What then is the point of communication? Solely bending others to your will?

Saying objective journalism doesn't exist invalidates the apprehension and communication of truth. (Plato wasn't the only philosopher in the past few thousand years. Plenty of 'em in short reading form if you like on wikipedia). Truth exists and can be reflected and communicated.

That said, I'd love to see something funded by viewers. I think it'd do better if it was more interactive however. I mean, c'mon, television?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:55 PM on June 13, 2005


""Will this model work?"
This model, it vibrates?
posted by beelzbubba at 3:32 PM P

*maxwell smart voice*
missed posting that by this much
posted by Smedleyman at 3:56 PM on June 13, 2005


Saying objective journalism doesn't exist invalidates the apprehension and communication of truth. (Plato wasn't the only philosopher in the past few thousand years. Plenty of 'em in short reading form if you like on wikipedia). Truth exists and can be reflected and communicated.

There is no objective journalism today. What do you want, the Manichaean "balance" of NPR? In the pre-Civil War era, NPR would've been there with a commentator who was pro-slavery and one who was anti-slavery, and give them equal time as if their points of view were equally worthwhile. That's nonsense. All journalism is ideologically slanted one way or another. "Balance," for instance, presents the ideas of the establishment as if they were exhaustive by basically creating innumerable false dichotomies. This is a dangerously bad idea.

Give me news that is honestly biased. I listen to NPR for what it offers, but if I'm going for commentary, I'll check into Counterpunch or the World Socialist Web Site.
posted by graymouser at 4:03 PM on June 13, 2005


If they did this I would have a reason for subscribing to cable TV again. Until then, screw it.
posted by mk1gti at 4:30 PM on June 13, 2005


wow, Smedleyman, just... *applause*
posted by dreamsign at 4:47 PM on June 13, 2005


Mofi Thread
posted by stray at 5:35 PM on June 13, 2005


Just a thought (and I'm not saying it's relevant to the discussion): When one has his head up his ass, left and right look absolutely the same.
posted by acrobat at 6:58 AM on June 14, 2005


graymouser, I agree with your well stated comments on balance, but stating There is no objective journalism today.
and
All journalism is ideologically slanted one way or another.
is really blanketing. Off the cuff I'd say the news in the Wall Street Journal is pretty on target. Usually. Their op-ed page is appaling of course, but that isn't journalism. Their business coverage pulls no punches usually.
Of course we can start kicking each other in the nuts over the definition of journalism and say "this is journalism" "no it isn't" and good journalism/ bad journalism etc.
But I'd rather offer a draw and concede the current state of media is pretty bad, but that straight truth tellers can be found.

heh heh Manichaean NPR. All Things Zoroaster. Morning/Evening edition. Talk of the Paraclete. Wait Wait Don't Dualize Me! heh heh.

Yeah, I get goofy on pain meds at 3:30 in the morning. So?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:05 AM on June 15, 2005


Great post, and great discussion. Wanted to let everyone know that Independent World Television's new web site launched yesterday, and we're looking for exactly this kind of input through our online survey and blog.

The question of left-wing vs. right-wing bias is one that comes up for us a lot. One thing I can say is that we think taking economic factors into account -- and not just ideological ones -- is important when considering the influences and pressures on TV news.

Over the last 20 years, there's been vastly increasing pressure on newsrooms to turn a profit. That's led to two major trends: 1) cutting costs (especially for investigation and foreign coverage) and 2) "infotainment"-style programming designed to deliver more eyeballs to advertisers.

Those pressures are less talked about than "liberal" vs. "conservative" biases, but (I believe) have a far greater impact on the kind of news we're getting. The issue is as much about quality and thoroughness as it is about bias.

In his excellent recent book, Bad News, CBS Sr. Foreign Correspondent Tom Fenton quotes David Javerbaum, the head writer for The Daily Show: "I think the problem of bias -- liberal vs. conservative bias -- is a red herring. The real bias is toward laziness, toward entertainment, toward confrontation, toward that which will drive the ratings. The real story is this incredible laziness. It seems like the whole institution has lost its way."

What Javerbaum calls "laziness" is the result of a massive institutional bias towards cutting costs and delivering ratings. That's why we want to change not just the content of TV news, but the underlying economics of journalism.

Economic independence won't necessarily guarantee "objectivity." But it does fundamentally change the equation, because it changes the overall objective: is your #1 goal to serve the public? Or the bottom line?

Thanks again for the great post and discussion. Hope you'll let us know what you think about our new site at IWTnews.com.
posted by Matt from IWTnews at 1:40 PM on June 16, 2005


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