Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mr. Hewitt and Mr Rutten

Hugh Hewitt instituted a new rule: he will only accept interviews on the condition that he can tape and release the whole interview on his program. It’s like a dead tree/radio version of blog reporting: his program the link to the original source so the audience can judge for themselves. Tim Rutten of the LA Times acceded to Hewitt’s wishes here is his story and here is the unexpurgated transcript from Radioblogger.

Mr. Rutten argues in his column that:

While the political talk-show hosts and right-wing bloggers claim to have a quarrel with mainstream media's alleged bias, their real gripe is that the news media's traditional values stand between them and what they'd like to accomplish, which is the total politicization of all reporting and analysis.

Mr. Hewitt claims that new media is merely the correction to the bias, that people are better served by transparency by news distributors so they can better judge how facts are being emphasized. He says this:

If you have to have conventions to correct bias, then you're admitting that you bring bias to the newsroom, and that the consumer, allegedly the people you're trying to serve, would be better served by the same transparency that many on the left, for example, demanding of John Roberts, but which journalists refuse.

Mr. Hewitt then goes on posit the thought that lack of transparency and bias are why papers like the LA Times are losing readers, advertisers and the like. He says that newsrooms are so saturated by bias they can’t even see it.

Mr. Rutten says he draws different conclusions from the facts and that journalists exclude their biases. People make mistakes and he doesn’t see any willful political shading to news stories. Go ahead and read both pieces.

Radioblogger asks bloggers to write what and why Mr. Rutten was not understanding about Hugh Hewitt’s counter argument. Here’s an illustration:

Hugh and a Mike are discussing a restaurant around the corner. “It was terrible!” cries Mike. “The food wasn’t healthy, the service was slow, the bill was high – I have written it off my list. I’ll never go there again.” Two days later Hugh finds he left his lunch at home and decides to risk the restaurant. Hugh finds the food tasty, the place crowded and the bill reasonable for the food he purchased. Running into Mike, he comments saying: “The cheeseburger was tasty, served with a smile and only cost 7 bucks!” Mike replies, “My tofu sampler has always been delivered to my table 3 minutes after ordering it at Organic Hut and only costs 4 bucks! That’s the place that’s best!”

Mike’s idea of what a restaurant ought to serve, how quickly and at what price are vastly different than Hugh. His analysis of the Burger Palace wasn’t wrong but his perceptions colored his facts. When Mike bounces up to Hugh and says he has found a great new restaurant Hugh will know Mike tends to favor Organic Hut and weight the recommendation accordingly. Mike wonders why Hugh doesn’t agree with his choice of restaurant.

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