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Thoughts on Media Bias

Dave Hardy talks about how newspapers used to report the news.

Yup, reporters were more respected then. I recall reading of the Civil War … at one point Grant needs to get a message to President Lincoln, so he just sends it with a reporter who is going to DC. He adds a verbal message. The reporter only reveals that years after the event; Grant told him that it was for Lincoln alone. After Shiloh, I think, Grant for the only time gets blind drunk and passes out. A reporter (with whom he was riding) throws his coat over him to hide his stars if anyone rides by, and only reveals the event long after the war is over. A reporter is within earshot of Grant giving orders to his commanders, and is chastised — you’re not supposed to listen in at this level! Nobody thought anything unusual of a reporter traveling with army headquarters, it’s just that there’s an unwritten rule you won’t actually listen in to Grant and Meade giving orders for the day. No need for interviews: you’re there when everything is happening, out riding and drinking with them, etc.

Read the whole thing.  I suspect a lot of the trust afforded the military of journalists had to do with the fact that information was just much harder to disperse back then.  It’s much much harder to control information these days.  That probably tends to create less trust than you could instill in people when information was much more difficult to spread around.

I also think part of the problem isn’t so much bias, but people’s perception of the media as providing accurate and unbiased information.  Blogs are certainly biased, but we don’t claim to be anything other than biased.  I think journalism would be better off if papers were just up front with the biases in their reporting, and everyone knew about them.

3 Responses to “Thoughts on Media Bias”

  1. chris says:

    also back then, reporters could be hung for treason if they screwed around the wrong way.

  2. oldblinddog says:

    I think the problem is that reporters no longer think of themselves as Americans!

  3. Ted says:

    While Grant got along fairly well with reporters, Sherman hated them with a passion. IIRC, he actually had one court martialed.

    I suspect that these days, there are more than a few in the blogosphere who wonder if Sherman was too easy on ’em ….

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