The recent op/ed piece by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, “How news operations can improve level of trust,” demonstrates why I believe they never will. Ignatius claims that 72 percent of the public “think news organizations favor one side in covering political or social issues.” Actually, we know they do, and they favor the political left. Fox News is always “right wing” news, yet CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC are rarely described as “left wing.”
The Wall Street Journal is sometimes described as a right wing newspaper. when it actually is the establishment newspaper, with corporate profit more important than ideology. The Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times are left wing news outlets, yet are rarely described as such.
That slant repeats in smaller media outlets as they seek to gain favor with their larger brethren. Why is that slant ignored? Because they are the “mainstream media.” They consider their point of view mainstream and therefore correct. Their political views are obvious on their opinion pages, but that is not the problem. The mistrust arises because that editorial slant bleeds over into the day-to-day news reporting.
Ignatius wants to re-institute the ombudsman position. That’s like asking a school crossing guard to stop criminal gangs. Acknowledging the need of an ombudsman demonstrates that editors and owners know their reporting is slanted. The idea is to paper over the failed journalism with a wink and a nod to some phony idea of balance — as if some petty self-flagellation is the cure for failed journalism.
The solution is not an ombudsman. That is the symptom of journalistic failure. The only solution is to return to journalism without the politics. Will that happen? Not in my lifetime. Careers are made on the basis of slanted reporting to please editors who are striving to appease owners.
And all of them are striving to please an ever-shrinking base of public support and subscription. One must wonder if the decline in subscribers and viewers is the cause of the slanted reporting or the consequence.
— Jeff Miller, Wilmington
Editor’s note: There is a misconception about newspaper readership that should be clarified. Although subscriptions to print editions have declined over the entire newspaper industry, because of digital content readership has never been higher. In the past month, for example, StarNewsOnline.com was visited by over half a million users.