Monday, March 12, 2007

Media Bias: The Stephen Taylor Edition

Stephen Taylor of the Blogging Tories is up in arms about some report on the CBC. From what I'm able to tell the problem was that Tom Flanagan didn't get a chance to comment about the story. Thus, in Taylor's mind some kind of artificial balance was thrown out of proportion.

I'm somewhat concerned by balance fetishists because balances of opinion are artificial. Everyone's idea of a "balanced" news report is shaped by their own sense of what constitutes "balance" in the media. I'm sure that Flanagan has other reasons to be upset with CBC, and to him this is another in a long list of grievances. What is fascinating about Flanagan's letter to Taylor is that the one thing that the media needs for better balance is more Tom Flanagan.

Of course it's not as though Tom Flanagan (or Stephen Taylor for that matter) are silenced by the media. I've read lengthy Flanagan Op-Eds in the Globe and Mail and I see that Macleans has anointed both Flanagan and Taylor as two of their 50 extra-special opinion-shaping people. It is evident that there are lots of opportunities for both Taylor and Flanagan to get their opinions out there. So what if one reporter ditched Flanagan's shimmering pearls of wisdom on one story? I've seen plenty of one-sided articles emanating from both Macleans and the CanWest Global empire that I vehemently disagreed with.

What did I do?

Well, I didn't waste time trying to dig up some journalism code of ethics with which to sully these institutions. No. I accept that everyone is biased, you, me, Stephen Taylor, everyone. I criticized and/or mocked the pieces that I found disagreeable instead. There is nothing wrong with an editorial board having a point of view - in fact the media that I consider most suspicious are those that swear up and down that they are unbiased. It's humanly impossible to be unbiased, when some outlet says it's unbiased it likely means that the bias is more insidious than in other cases.

On a side note, what happened to the whole conservative pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps mentality? I mean this seems to be an appeal to have someone else fix a problem for you. Shouldn't true conservatives busy themselves using entrepreneurial energies to create a leaner, more innovative market-driven competitor to a big mushy government apparatus like the CBC?

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