Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 17, 2004
POLITICS: Objectivity, the Foreign Press and the Missing European Center

Jim Geraghty, back from vacationing in Italy (and still in need of a new title), has some interesting thoughts on the international press. He starts by surveying various options for someone in Europe looking for more objective coverage of the U.S. This caught my eye:

The International edition of USA Today: Making the domestic version of that newspaper look like “War and Peace.” Three paragraphs and then we punt. I can’t complain about their news coverage skewing one way or another because there was rarely enough to form an opinion about. I do love the sports section, though.

Here at home, I’m a fan of USA Today, because I feel like its aspirations to be a national paper and its famous brevity combine to make it one of America’s more objective publications. USA Today is generally scorned by readers of more hefty papers like The New York Times, but, unlike that paper, it really is a pretty good bellwether for the country. (Of course, brevity does not guarantee objectivity. Down here in DC, commuters are treated to the free Washington Post Express paper, which manages to cram an incredible amount of spin into just a few brief paragraphs every day.)

In fact, I’ve long wondered: what it is the most objective news source in the country?

American conservatives rage against the liberal leanings of The New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the wire services and the major networks, among others. Still, the alternatives tend to be obviously conservative-leaning outlets, such as FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, New York Post or talk radio. They all have their uses, but is anyone actually in the middle? For those, on either side, who don’t like to live in an echo chamber, there is kind of a missing market. Or, in reality, is being truly “fair and balanced” just a pipe dream?

Geraghty also makes a good point about the foreign press:

I wonder if one of the reasons that anti-Americanism is flourishing overseas is a lack of non-leftist voices in these countries’ media. If conservatives felt like their ideas and opinions were unheard in the pre-Internet, pre-Fox News, pre-talk radio, pre-alternative media American news environment, what chance does any non-leftist have in Europe, the Middle East, or elsewhere?

I was wondering that myself with the recent turmoil in the Netherlands and latest statements from France. Generalizing, it seems like most of the political parties in Western Europe represent either different brands of “left wing” socialism or fringe “right wing” isolationism/anti-immigrant nativism, with some of the worst tendencies of the American right, but few of the positive ones. There seems to be a big void in the middle, especially on the center-right. Is European media the cause of that or just a symptom?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:38 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)
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