Monday, June 27, 2005

Speaking of the Star Tribune...

I saw this column Sunday from the Reader's representative, Kate Parry. It was about the perception of bias at the Star Tribune, both liberal and believe it or not, conservative. Here's how she characterizes the two kinds of mail she gets on the subject:

Here are the messages I regularly hear from these readers:

From conservatives: The Star Tribune is too liberal. It never prints anything positive about the war in Iraq because it's biased against President Bush. It slants news coverage to fit the liberal editorial page agenda. It never scrutinized Bill Clinton the way it goes after Bush. Everyone who works there is a liberal.

From liberals: The Star Tribune has become too conservative. It is caving to pressure from the right -- that's why it hired a conservative Metro columnist. It buries important stories about how badly the war in Iraq is going. It slants coverage to fit the agenda of its conservative corporate masters.

Of course, the very idea that the Strib hiring a conservative columnist is a sign of conservative bias at a paper who has the likes of Nick Coleman, Doug Grow, and Kim Ode in the Metro section is ludicrous, but I digress.

She then looks at it in terms of the coverage of President Bush's recent visit to Maple Grove vs. the coverage of former President Clinton's visits here in his second term. Unsurprisingly, she finds little difference between the two, at least in the amount of space devoted to coverage. However I do have this modest bone to pick. Parry mentions the amount of space given to the Presidents' respective detractors on their various trips to Minnesota:

McMichael liked the photo of Bush that ran on the front page after the visit, but she thought the tone of the coverage was negative, with references to protesters and context about people who questioned the drug plan. I measured 8.75 column inches on detractors of Bush in coverage of his visit. With Clinton, there was no coverage of detractors during the school visit, but there were 10 inches from detractors during the farm visit, including a mention on page one of "tepid applause" from the farmer crowd to some of Clinton's ideas.

I would just like to ask, how many major stories about Bush appear in the Strib without giving significant coverage to his detractors?

In any case, the column was kind of interesting, but it mostly misses the point. The things that most bother conservatives are stories that misrepresent their views, stories that spend a lot of space reporting the viewpoints of liberals and then give short shrift to conservative viewpoints, the name-calling, shrillness, the lack and misrepresentation of conservative views, and sloppiness on the editorial pages, the stories that use liberal sources without identifing their politics but always label conservative sources, etc. . I think these questions are of more interest to conservatives.

Correction : Made an edit to fix the first block quote, from which I left out the first sentence.

No comments: