When Media Consumers Revolt

Something very interesting in the news about the news–the Chicago Sun has publicly announced its decision to make its op-ed page more liberal. From Editor and Publisher:

The tabloid that shifted toward political conservatism under the brief ownership of Rupert Murdoch more than two decades ago now says that it is “rethinking our stance on several issues, including the most pressing issue facing Americans today: Bush’s war in Iraq.”
Under marching orders from Publisher John Cruickshank and Editor in Chief Michael Cooke, new Editorial Page Editor Cheryl L. Reed introduced a new Commentary section Tuesday with a promise to turn the tabloid into the liberal-leaning paper it was for decades before the Reagan administration.
“We are returning to our liberal, working-class roots, a position that pits us squarely opposite the Chicago Tribune — that Republican, George Bush-touting paper over on moneyed Michigan Avenue,” Reed wrote. “We’re rethinking our stance on several issues, including the most pressing issue facing Americans today: Bush’s war in Iraq.”
Reed, who did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment about the change, is the paper’s former book editor who was asked by Cruickshank and Cooke to “conceive an editorial and opinion section that looked like the future,” she wrote.
Her instructions: “‘Don’t be conservative,’ Cruickshank urged me. ‘We don’t want you to hold back.'”
Reed said the Sun-Times will be adding seats to the editorial board “so that board members — the paper’s brain trust — reflect the ethnic and social diversity of our city.”

There was also this good idea for accountability:

Eventually, she added, the paper will list the board members — and disclose who wrote what editorial. “That way you’ll know who the characters are behind the curtain,” she explained. “No Wizards of Oz here.”

A while ago, I wrote:

The only thing that will change this is when citizens consumers start demanding better news. In an anecdotal story, an older colleague tells me that his friends and family (both liberals and moderate conservatives) are cancelling subscriptions to the NY Times because it’s boring and doesn’t have the news and opinion they’re looking for. Maybe that’s what will change the media…

It seems that’s starting to happen, particularly in metropolitan areas that typically skew liberal.

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3 Responses to When Media Consumers Revolt

  1. In a way, cool and yea, but I really would like to see a newspaper that is truly independent of any particular slant. Perhaps a bit too much to ask, but neither conservatives nor liberals are complete blocs.
    I am not asking for “fair and balanced” because we know what a crock that is, but I would like to see an editorial board that is thoughtful and educated and places commentary on issues from a considered, independent viewpoint without pre-considered notions.
    For the most part, such a situation would be liberal by default, but still…

  2. Edward says:

    Everyone has biases. The problem is that many news outlets are not honest about those biases: Fox news is the obvious example, but all the TV networks have a pro-corporation bias that none of them is entirely honest about.
    NPR and PBS are the only major Radio and TV networks that are not part of some major conglomerate in the US, and even they depend in part on corporate donations.
    Newspapers are of limited relevance in the internet world, but I remember hearing a story a few months back (on NPR) that even many local small-circulation newspapers were being bought up by publishing corporations looking to expand their profits. That our news media is under the control of an ever smaller group of people and that editors have to constantly worry about pleasing their corporate bosses concerns me far more that the editorial policy of one newspaper.
    Democracy needs to hear hundreds, if not thousands of different points of views if it is to function. If we just hear the views of the 4 or 5 dominate corporate alliances, we don’t have a functioning democracy. We’ve got Fox, Microsoft-NBC, Disney-ABC-Apple, AOL-Time-Warner-CNN, and CBS-Viacom, and most of the American public doesn’t bother with anything else.

  3. Kristin says:

    The only problem with this is that the Sun Times is written at about a third grade level, and the analysis of news is not very strong. I quit reading the Tribune when they endorsed Bush – I’ll have to give the Sun Times another chance now.

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