Wednesday, February 06, 2002

has an interesting piece on the use of labels in the media.

Here's my take: Bias exists, mostly due to the type of people that are drawn to careers in journalism, and the culture of news organizations.

What should be done about it? Not much, except to keep bringing it up. I think it would be wrong to insist that organiazations have a "conservative quota" or have a "token conservative" on their editorial boards. I think it's probably in their interest to have a diverse set of viewpoints, but I don't think legislation would help. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's editorial page is liberal. It would sooner endorse genocide than Dick Gephardt's opponent. I know that, so I don't bother reading it. Their loss.

But if we insist that the Post-Dispatch have a conservative on the board, what would happen? Well, since fewer conservatives are drawn to journalism, more mediocre people would get the jobs. What's more, what interest would the Post-Dispatch have in hiring a amrt conservative writer when they're forced to do so. Wouldn't they hire a mediocre talent to demonstrate how silly the rule is.

Still, I think Bernard Goldberg's book and other comments media bias are useful, even if there's no remedy. It reminds us all that just because the Post-Dispatch editorial says something, that doesn't mean that most St. Louisans agree. It also makes the news organizations aware that they're alienating part of their audience, and they can take steps to rectify it.

There's a fine line between encouraging diversity and enforcing rigid quotas. Too often efforts to accomplish the former turn into the latter. But just, as with racial diversity, ideological diversity is too important for news organizations to ignore. Anything that reminds them of this is a good thing.
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