Mtg Follow-Up: Mainstream Media – Watchdog Vs. Lapdog

It’s always good to get a crowd of about 15-16 people.  This size,  or a little bigger, strikes me as ideal.   Plus we had a few new members (Tony, Allen) and some semi-regulars it was good to see again (Joan, Art, Sharon, etc.).

I hope I made my main point clear.  The mainstream media’s decisions on what to cover and how to cover it are ast least as much business decisions as they are deliberate or unconscious efforts to be biased.  The worst biases, IMO, occur when the MSM’s economic interests correspond to the direction they already want to go in for other (such as ideological or cultural) reasons.  Two examples:

  • Covering religion:  Journalists and their managers in the MSM tend not to be very religious or care much about the subject.  At the same time, covering religious issues can easily alienate viewers or advertisers.  So…the subject is often given little attention.
  • Covering Tea Parties:  The tea parties were new and shiny and made for great visuals.  Ignoring them or treating them as what they were – old whine in new bottles -would have angered conservatives who you wouldn’t like when they’re angry.  So…go with the flow and treat the tea parties an exciting grass-roots movement of independents.

What do you think?

Also, someone asked what are the main sources of news.   Here is a list of the 15 most used news websites.  Notice that all are either merely the websites of the major TV news networks or newspapers (,, or news aggregators (Yahoo, Google, Huffpost).  The same group that compiled that list also tracks the 15 most popular “political news” websites.  This is where the blogs come out.  By my count, 4 are liberal, 7 are conservative, and 4 are more straightforward news.  But, notice the differences in sheer size between the giants and the blogs.  The #15 news website,, gets more hits per month than all but one of the top 15 political news.   Like I said: So far the main effect of political blogs is to influence what the MSM covers, not to replace the MSM as news sources.

Finally, Tony asked me what I read on-line.  Tony, see this old post for a list of sites I like.  The list includes Talking Points Memo, one of the examples of pro-am journalistic collaboration I mentioned in my presentation.  TPM is a combination of breaking political news, investigative journalism, and commentary.  See this post for my recommendations on what to read on-line on politics itself.

Next Week:  Sept-January schedules available.


One response

  1. For a different argument, see this Atlantic piece from today that speaks to how journalists became obsessed with the horse race and tend to construct their coverage from that perspective:

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