Do you agree with the press corps' values?

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2021

We'll go with two out of five: It's a fascinating headline. It sits atop Margaret Sullivan's column in today's Washington Post:

Bad news for journalists: The public doesn’t share our values...

Sullivan is the  "media columnist" at the Post. In today's column, she says the public doesn't share the press corps' values.

Sullivan's column is built around a survey by the American Press Institute. The API defined the press corps' five "core values," then surveyed the public about them.

Uh-oh! We the people don't like those core values! This is how bad it is:

SULLIVAN (4/14/21): The results indicated that only one of five core values touted by journalists also shares the support of a majority of Americans—the idea that more facts get us closer to the truth. About 7 people in 10 support this.

Gack! Only one of the five core values received majority support from the public. And that core value was only supported by 70 percent of us rubes!

In her column, Sullivan says there may be a way to win more support for these basic core values. In a typical manifestation, she never wonders if there could be something wrong with the core values themselves, rather than with the public's views.

With that, we offer a dirty little secret—we're not sure that we support those five core values either! In the end, we may support only two of the five. Here they are, in the way Sullivan lists and defines them in her column:

The press corps' five core values:

Oversight. We’re the watchdogs keeping an eye on government officials and other powerful people and institutions.

Transparency. We believe it’s best to put information out in the open, not keep it hidden.

Factuality. It’s crucial to provide as much accurate information as possible to get to the truth.

Spotlighting wrongdoing. We think society’s problems are best solved by exposing them to public criticism.

Giving a voice to the voiceless. It’s our job to advocate for those lacking power or social standing.

There they are—the five core values. We strongly support "Transparency" and "Factuality." Given the way the modern press works, we're not sure about the other three on that list.

For starters, we strongly agree! "We believe it’s best to put [relevant[ information out in the open." 

We also strongly agree with this: "It’s crucial to provide as much accurate [and relevant] information as possible."

We strongly agree with those values. But precisely because we agree with those values, we're not real sure about the other three on the list.

We say that for this reason:

Consider the first of the five core values: "We’re the watchdogs keeping an eye on government officials and other powerful people and institutions."

Given the way the modern press works, it's dangerous to let them think that they play an important "watchdog" role in the way our society functions.

As soon as you let them start thinking that way, they start putting their thumbs on the scale, often as a tightly-scripted group. As their stampede picks up steam, they start picking and choosing the information they're willing to expose to the public.

We have the same basic reaction to the "Giving a voice to the voiceless" value. That's what our unimpressive mainstream journalists think they're doing, at the present time, with respect to all sorts of questions of gender and race.

But as soon as you let them start thinking that way, they start disappearing certain facts and embellishing and dreaming up others. We've been amazed by some of the ways we've seen basic facts disappeared by major journalists just in the past few days.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our journalist just aren't super-sharp. They're strongly inclined to run in packs. They tend to swell themselves up with pride about their Remarkably High Moral Values, which are often of the highly performative kind.

As soon as they start thinking that they're major reformers, they start withholding certain facts and dreaming up quite a few others. They reject all efforts at correction. They can't be held in check.

These are not highly competent people. Top anthropologists continue to claim that, on the basis of wiring, this is the best they can do.


33 comments:

  1. Jeez. You sound like a child, dear Bob. Who, in their right mind, would read this shit, let alone 'analyzing' it like you do?

    But of course your liberal-hitlerian media are for Everything Good ™ and against Everything Evil ™ . What did you expect them to say?

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  2. You don't change the values because you don't like the way the press is exemplifying them. You change the press.

    If Somerby doesn't understand why these values are important, he needs to study civics. The First Amendment is intended to enable the press to place a check and balance on government through transparency.

    These values are intended as an ideal -- not a description of the modern press. If Somerby doesn't support these values, he doesn't support democracy. But that's no surprise, given his support for Trump and autocracy. At least he is being honest today.

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    1. Anonymouse 3:17pm, displays the precise sort of reasoning found among media members.

      If anyone wonders why the media is disliked and distrusted look no further than this Anonymouse superficial and dictatorial response.

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    2. I so glad they have a separate political party for people like you.

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    3. anon 3:17 - I agree with you to the extent that TDH blurs these 'values" and whether the media actually adheres to these values. TDH is correct - the 'liberal' press and lots of pols and pundits have put their thumbs on the scale when it comes to race and gender. (No doubt the right wing mega-media forces do this on their issue also) Facts or circumstances that don't fit the story line are often ignored. Lots of people see this - though lots don't including you. Your statement that TDH 'has given his support to Trump and autocracy" is preposterous.

      Delete
    4. "(No doubt the right wing mega-media forces do this on their issue also)"

      What makes you think that issue isn't race on their side, too?

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    5. A different emphasis in the way a story is written does not constitute a "thumb on scales". It is often just a different choice or focus. Somerby seems to be getting upset when a story isn't biased in favor of an officer.

      Somerby has been supporting Trump and conservative memes since Trump first decided to run.

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    6. 'Your statement that TDH 'has given his support to Trump and autocracy" is preposterous.'

      AC/MA, Somerby has gallantly defended Trump and Trumpbots like Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes for the last 4 years. Somerby is a hard core malevolent Trumptard, whose gripe against the Press is that they don't worship Trump and Trumpsters like he does.

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    7. Centrist, keep going with your idiotic, lazy and stupid lies repeated over and over again with zero evidence. we don't like it when Trump and his apologists repeat lies, but here is someone like you and anon 6:53 doing the same thing.

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    8. I don't know if Bob is a Trumptard.
      There has to be some reason Bob repeats Right-wing nonsense memes. Could be he's just a gullible moron.

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    9. AC/MA, several of us have been providing the evidence, which you dismiss. Centrist is merely summarizing the efforts of those here who have been critical of Somerby.

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    10. anons 6:58 and 9:14, when 'liberals' take irrational positions, or take positions based on selected evidence, ignoring facts that contradict their positions, what do you expect - conservatives will jump on it. And for someone who is a democrat, like me, and it's pretty clear TDH, to point out the flaws in the positions taken - that doesn't make TDH, or me, or anyone else who points out the flaws a "Trumptard" or a defender of Trump. (Unless it's your position that a false charge against Trump is immune from criticism) When the 'liberal' memes don't make sense or are dogmatic, one-sided, and slanted - and nowadays that's often the case - it's legitimate to point that out. TDH's positions are usually well reasoned (not always). Doesn't mean there isn't more than one side to it. But stupidly claiming TDH is a Trumptard over and over again (and it's never with any evidence) isn't valid.

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    11. TDH's positions are often one-sided, dogmatic and slanted. Why shouldn't Centrist point that out?

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  3. Somerby says he doesn't support the press as watchdog because they will put their thumbs on the scale. That's why the value of accuracy is needed. It prevents that from happening.

    It is not intended that these 5 values should operate in isolation from each other. They work together. Somerby's approach of picking and choosing among them is wrong. For example, why do we need a press with protected status if it is not going to address abuses of power?

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  4. "But as soon as you let them start thinking that way, they start disappearing certain facts and embellishing and dreaming up others. We've been amazed by some of the ways we've seen basic facts disappeared by major journalists just in the past few days."

    Somerby seems to be judging the press by whether they report according to his beliefs, attitudes, and understanding of the facts. He doesn't consider that he might be wrong and they right in the way they approach a story. Anyone who doesn't agree with him is wrong. And because they are wrong, they shouldn't be permitted to do their job according to the values of their profession.

    This is how authoritarianism works -- with Somerby as the authority.

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  5. The public doesn't choose the values for a profession. The nature of a profession is that the public doesn't have sufficient ability to determine whether they are doing their job properly, so the profession establishes values and a code of ethics governing their practitioners.

    Somerby is a perfect example of why the public cannot choose the values and standards to which journalists are held.

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  6. When you vote on a value it becomes a norm, not a value.

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  7. “…but kept it in the abstract…” sayeth Sullivan. T’would be nice to know that abstract, methinks. So sayeth Bob. And he’s right. Mainstream media services us badly.

    And how is this possible?

    "...The results indicated that only one of five core values touted by journalists also shares the support of a majority of Americans — the idea that more facts get us closer to the truth. About 7 people in 10 support this."

    Only 70%?! Holy cow...



    Leroy

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    1. It’s not facts that seven in ten people distrust. It’s the media’s foregone conclusions that they peddle as unquestionable doctrine.

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    2. It’s not facts that seven in ten people distrust. It’s the media’s foregone conclusions that they peddle as unquestionable doctrine.

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    3. Treating Right-wing arguments as if they are made in good faith is an even bigger problem.

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    4. " It’s the media’s foregone conclusions that they peddle as unquestionable doctrine."

      Yup. "Brave" first responders my ass.

      Delete
  8. 'Do you agree with the press corps' values?'

    Well, I certainly don't agree with Somerby's values -- worship of Trump, and defense of Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes

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  9. “with respect to all sorts of questions of gender and race.”

    Somerby has said that the ‘intersections of "race" and crime and punishment’ are largely imagined, and that “A lot of people get shot and killed by police officers in the U.S. We'll repeat the points we feel we should make every day:
    As far as we know, no police misconduct is involved in the bulk of such cases.”

    That sounds very much like putting one’s thumb on the scales, because since he has decided that he is correct about this, then anyone who presents a different view is automatically deemed wrong and guilty of fact-free narrative, i.e. putting their thumb on the scales.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. Transparency and factuality. Somerby approves of these. But you quickly enter a grey area even in the category of factuality. For example, Somerby wanted a carefully chosen group of psychiatrists, including Bandy Lee, presumably, to be given space in the media to state their opinion that Trump was mentally ill. But this isn’t an example of factuality. It is an opinion, reached by professionals, but differing from the opinions of other such professionals. Just as we cannot know whether Trump was lying (a view oft stated by Somerby), we also cannot know if Trump is mentally ill.

    As far as the press being a watchdog:
    He has accused those in the mainstream media who report on the factual crimes and ethical violations of Republican elected officials of “wanting to put the Others in jail”, so that he has effectively tried to silence this kind of watchdog reporting as mere partisan bad faith.

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