Monday, August 30, 2010

It All Depends on Where You Stand

Moral Majority Revisited?

On Saturday, August 28th, Glenn Beck led a rally from the front of the Lincoln Memorial to “restore America,” and it was covered live on some television stations and written about on line and in newspapers. Since most local newspapers cannot afford to send reporters to every “newsworthy” event, they rely on getting news either from syndicated sources or from their own not-for-profit cooperative — the Associated Press (AP) — which is owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members.

They’ve Got You Covered

Each member newspaper decides whether or not to pick up and use all of an AP story, some of a story, or not use the story at all. Two Northern California newspapers decided to use the AP story on the rally, but their coverage varied widely.

The more conservative Santa Cruz Sentinel’s headline read “Beck, Palin rally to ‘restore America’” and contained two black and white AP photographs; one of the crowd from the base of the Washington Monument and the larger one showed a close-up shot of Beck, arms spread wide as he spoke to the crowd. The San Jose Mercury News showed the one of the crowd but in color.

Newspapers print in columns going up and down so to measure the space devoted to any one story, you take the number of columns used and then multiply this by the inches of copy and photographs in each column resulting in the term “column inches.”

The difference in the amount of space devoted by each paper to the rally was as wide as Beck’s open arms. The Sentinel devoted 91-½ column inches to the story while the Mercury News gave it a seemingly paltry 21-¾ column inches.

The Damn Liberal Media?

If your first inclination is that the liberal Mercury News was deliberately more conservative in its coverage, you would get into an argument with their former editor Rob Elder. Whenever he spoke to any of my journalism classes he stressed how fair and balanced they attempted to be in their coverage of any story. They did so without promulgating “fair and balanced” as Fox News does with their hypocritical self-promoting slogan.

On the emes (truth), the Yiddish language connects Beck and the political scene at:

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