I hate to bigfoot Matt Welch's news-nannies-gnashing-teeth beat, but this coverage (via Drudge) of a speech called "The Wolf in Reporter's Clothing: The Rise of Pseudo-Journalism in America" by L.A. Times editor John S. Carroll is too good to pass up. Speaking to a crowd of hopefuls at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication, Carroll reported that the Times has taken the "high road," while other organizations have ended up "in the gutter." A sample:
"All over the country there are offices that look like newsrooms and there are people in those offices that look for all the world just like journalists, but they are not practicing journalism," he said. "They regard the audience with a cold cynicism. They are practicing something I call a pseudo-journalism, and they view their audience as something to be manipulated."
In a scathing critique of Fox News and some talk show hosts, such as Bill O'Reilly, Carroll said they were a "different breed of journalists" who misled their audience while claiming to inform them. He said they did not fit into the long legacy of journalists who got their facts right and respected and cared for their audiences.
Carroll cited a study released last year that showed Americans had three main misconceptions about Iraq: That weapons of mass destruction had been found, a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq had been demonstrated and that the world approved of U.S intervention in Iraq. He said 80 percent of people who primarily got their news from Fox believed at least one of the misconceptions. He said the figure was more than 57 percentage points higher than people who get their news from public news broadcasting.
Leaving aside the selection of these myths believed by Fox watchers rather than, say, the belief in toxin-related cancer and birth defects at Love Canal that is held by New York Times readers, there's a legitimate question of whether the last one even qualifies as a "misconception." I think it's pretty clear that the vast majority of the populations in most relevant countries opposed the invasion of Iraq. But at the level of statecraft, which is what this question really tracks, is it possible to say whether the "world" approved or disapproved? Is the issue here that Fox fans are wrong or that Carroll doesn't like what they think?
"Don't be lured by the money or the big name of the employer," Carroll concludes, hinting at why he decided to hitch his fortunes to an obscure regional publication that has never been tempted away from the straight and narrow path.
Full story, with swooning reviews by audience suckups, here.