It gets frustrating at times when you work in the media and find yourself in a profession that is constantly blasted by people accusing you of being biased, and you then see that the media outlet with the reputation for being most biased happens to be getting high ratings.
It’s such an obvious double standard.
Veteran journalist Terry McDermott, in this month’s Columbia Journalism Review, makes this important point:
“The perceived problem is not that Fox’s straight news is relatively bias-free and its opinion programming overwhelmingly conservative. The problem is that the news portion is very small and the opinion portion very large. It would indeed be like a traditional newspaper opinion-news division if the ratios were reversed.”
He then compares Fox News, CNN and MSNBC in terms of staffing and coverage. Citing his own personal experience, he says one almost always finds a CNN crew or stringer (an industry term for a freelancer) while covering news around the world. He adds that one almost never runs into a Fox reporter, and never one from MSNBC.
So what are people who work in the media supposed to get from this? If ratings are supposed to be a signal of what the viewers actually want, does that mean we all should be delivering less real news and more opinion?