The death of Tim Russert hit most people who work in the news media, or pay attention to the news, hard. His life was celebrated, not just on NBC where the affable host of Meet the Press hung his hat, but on all networks and news outlets.
Because Russert was a consummate professional. Though he came to broadcast journalism late in life, he understood the job and took his position seriously. His subjects understood that when they sat down for an interview with Russert, he was informed on every aspect of their life amd every position they had championed. They knew his questions would be hard, direct and fair. They also knew that when Russert asked a question, he expected an answer and would persist until he got one.
Viewers knew that when they watched Meet the Press, they would learn something. Russert’s own views were irrelevant. When his subjects were called in to discuss an issue, he would raise all the important points of the opposing side. If someone gave out questionable information, Russert would call them on it. It was never personal. He was a genuinely nice guy who was as beloved as he was admired.
Russert’s untimely passing has journalists everywhere reexamining their own work product. How do they measure up? How will they be remembered? This is a wake-up call for conservatives, who have come to accept the liberal bias of the news media as a thing that must be tolerated.
There was nothing magic about what Russert did. It was basic Journalism 101. It’s just that the standards have been relaxed to the point that today, most journalists will print or report anything that suits their fancy without question. Balance is having a least one quote from each side which may or may not be true or relevant. Often what passes as news is nothing but thinly veiled advocacy.
When is the last time you wrote or called a journalist, editor, reporter, news director or producer? Most people never do. They just complain about bias in the media but will not lift a finger or flip the lid on a cell phone to do anything about it.
Most journalists want to be considered “good” journalists. Having spent the lion’s share of my professional life in a newsroom, I can tell you that we are extremely sensitive to legitimate criticism. However, we get very little of it.
Also, broadcast licenses are considered a public trust. Licenses have to be renewed. Therefore, television and radio stations log caller comments — both positive and negative — and they are passed around for station mangers, news directors, reporters, anchors and program hosts to read. Those positive comments encourage us to keep doing what we are doing — we live for those things! However, the negative ones are taken very seriously.
Many years ago, I read that a television network considers that each caller represents the views of 10,000 viewers, so few will pick up the phone.
When making a call, the important thing to remember is this: Be courteous. Make your complain or comment short and specific. Whenever possible, include, the date, time, program or article, reporter, etc. and what was wrong, slanted or unbalanced about the piece.
Want to have even more of an impact? Persuade 10 of your friends to make a call or write a letter about the same article or broadcast.
Many years ago, pro-life groups began targeting the Los Angeles Times for its biased abortion coverage. Up to that point, the Times had referred to the two sides in this debate as pro-choice and anti-abortion. After months of calls, letters, and cancelled subscriptions, the Times adopted a new policy. The newspaper stopped weighting its stories and began identifying the two sides by the names each preferred, pro-choice and pro-life; or by their actual positions, pro-abortion and anti-abortion.
One of the easiest ways to slant the news is to under-report something that doesn’t fit your “agenda” or not report on it at all. That’s called “spiking.” At the end of each year, WorldNetDaily.com invites readers to help pick the top stories spiked by the news media.
When you hear about an important story that is spiked, you need to jump on it immediately!
For example, last week, Robert Knight of the Media Research Center alerted me that the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had upheld the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which enables the military to remove open homosexuals from service. The mainstream media were too busy doing stories pushing gay rights to report this important decision.
Do your favorite newspapers, journalists and television news broadcasts a favor. Hold them accountable!