Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Thanks, Marquette Tribune!

Marquette Tribune columnist John Heiderscheidt has been kind enough to give us his “Shut the Hell Up” award in the current issue of the paper.

We are flattered.

We would like to thank our producer, and director, and the wonderful people who helped this production along from inception to completion.

And mom and dad!

Let’s savor this honor sentence at a time
McAdams is a regular thorn in everyone’s side. Normally I would ignore it. Then the Tribune came under fire for the umpteenth time on his Weblog. This time it’s our ethics policy that has crawled up his rear.
My, my. We had the temerity to criticize the Tribune’s “ethics policy.”

And criticizing the media is entirely out of bounds.

Of course, not only was the policy criticized by us, but by the GOP3.COM blog (but that was probably predictable, being that it’s run by conservatives).

But then it was also criticized by the liberal Campus Tavern blog. Writing in the latter, Ryan Alexander said:
I still find this new policy completely asinine because it asserts that students in non-party affiliated student orgs as being on higher journalistic and ethical ground than those in College Democrats or College Republicans.

Does the Marquette Tribune feel that its writers are not capable of leaving their personal life out of their reporting?

If so, then the Marquette Tribune must not think much of the intellectual and ethical capabilities of its writers.
And Thomas Buttry, a member of the editorial board of the Tribune last year, informs us via e-mail:
The fact that the Tribune has gone to the length it has is a bit perplexing. If I were on staff I’d raise bloody hell, but, of course, I’m not anymore. In the Trib’s defense, the College Republicans and Democrats are making enough noise on campus to hamstring a staff member doing most any news beat. But I do have to say if this policy effects the Viewpoints, Marquee or Sports staff then it is inexcusable. People on Viewpoints staff are supposed to have viewpoints and politics has almost nothing to do with entertainment and general sports news.
But the Tribune can’t admit they simply goofed, and produced a bad policy.

Then we have this from Heiderscheidt:
Look professor, when we’re not down here burning American flags, holding “Pro-Abortion” rallies and hatching schemes to keep anyone with a conservative view 100 yards from the building, we’re producing a newspaper. See, down here we have to fact-check articles, copy edit articles and provide fair and accurate product. We can’t go liberal or conservative lampooning for the fun of it.
This shows a severe lack of understanding of media bias. The Mainstream Media (and the Tribune is the training ground for the Mainstream Media) aren’t biased because they try to be or intend to be.

They are biased because they see the world in one particular way, and can’t accept the legitimacy of other ways of viewing the world.

It’s not work to show a liberal bias. It’s work not to do so — to go to the effort to ask “are we in fact slanting this story in one particular way?”

The rant continues:
We can’t sit, take comments out of context and label people as liberals or conservatives without talking to them. Did he do any fact checking before labeling our managing editor?
Our sources say she is liberal. Do you dispute that?

And it won’t do to ask her and have her say she is a “moderate.” Everybody thinks they are “moderate.” Does she think abortion ought to be legal? Does she favor gay marriage? Does she favor stricter gun control?

We’ll make an offer: have her come around a sign an affidavit that she voted for Bush in 2004, or somebody besides Doyle in the last gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, and we’ll post a correction.

Sound fair?
I’m all for criticism. It makes us better professionals. But I won’t sit around and take any more abuse from a person who knows nothing about journalism. Do I come into your office and spout off about the standards of political science? No. Know why? Because I don’t know the first thing about it. Keep that in mind the next time you want to talk jive about journalism.
This is typical Mainstream Media elitism. You don’t know about journalism. Only we know about journalism. So (to quote Heiderscheidt exactly) “Shut the hell up.”

The truth is, journalists have few if any arcane skills and little if any arcane knowledge. A good journalist is an intelligent, resourceful and conscientious individual.

Journalism school training probably creates worse journalists, because is socializes fledgling reporters into the worldview of the Mainstream Media. They segregate themselves in Journalism courses and in places like the Tribune and develop a bunker mentality when criticized.

As if to show how insular the Mainstream Media are, Heiderscheidt says the following:
And by the way it’s “Pro-Choice,” not “Pro-Abortion.” No one is pro-abortion. Are you, “Anti-Freedom” because you won’t let a woman have the freedom to choose? Been to any “Anti-Freedom” rallies lately.
Heiderscheidt needs to tell us whether he is “pro-choice” about guns. Is he “pro-choice” about schools? Is he “pro-choice” about whether bar and tavern owners can set their own smoking policy?

If not, he’s not “pro-choice” at all, he’s just somebody who doesn’t think abortion is particularly bad. Those things he believes are particularly bad, he wants outlawed.

Has he ever referred to the NRA as a “pro-choice” organization rather than a “pro-gun” organization?

Our policy is to use “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion” and not any of the euphemisms that people on either side want to use. The Mainstream Media, on the other hand, tend to label one side “anti-abortion” and the other side “abortion rights.”

What Heiderscheidt has given us is a window into the mind of the Mainstream Media — or at least the fledgling members at Marquette.

That mind is stuck in a time warp. It comes from a time when CBS, NBC, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times the Washington Post and the like sat atop the media pyramid, deciding what people should and should not be allowed to see and hear, and how conflicts should be interpreted.

This was before the pesky bloggers, malevolent talk radio and insidious Fox News challenged their supremacy. Instead of trying to adapt to the new media world, they dream of using campaign finance laws to shut up bloggers and talk radio, and laws against media concentration to neuter Rupert Murdock.

Their inability to adapt is their weakness, and an advantage for the alternative media.

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