New media, old biases

As one surfs the massive waves of the Internet ocean, one thing becomes abundantly clear: The World Wide Web is not a place for objectivity.

In fact, if one wishes to see anything close to what used to be called journalism, one has to visit a website that is a spinoff from one of the old, traditional news organizations. There are actual news stories on, and, yes, Those stories are written by reporters who actually strive to present all sides of a subject.

To be sure, there are opinions on those sites too. But, as with traditional newspapers, the opinions are clearly labeled as such. That is not the case with much of the new media, particularly on the Web, but also on much of cable TV.

There are liberal and conservative blogs that are freely quoted from by their followers as gospel. There are commentators on cable networks that span the political spectrum – but usually on the extreme right or extreme left edges. There is very little “news” on these shows – merely opinions.

Now, this piece you are reading is an opinion. The page it appears on is clearly titled “Opinion.” Differing opinions from letter writers, columnists and cartoonists also appear on this page. Other pages in the paper contain genuine attempts at objective reporting on issues of the day.

The danger we see with the various blogs and cable shows is that a reader or viewer will seldom – if ever – see the other side of the story. If you are a fan of a very liberal or a very conservative show and watch it exclusively for news, you are not seeing the whole story.

So what? We think the nearsightedness of new media is at least partially responsible for the hyper-partisanship in Washington, D.C. The electorate is so fired up by the pundits on the right and left that our representatives are afraid to work together to find compromises.

It’s a sad but true fact – democracy requires compromise. And the only way that can be achieved is if you listen to the other guy’s point of view.

Too many of us are never hearing “the rest of the story.” Until we do, expect the gridlock in Washington to go on indefinitely.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.