Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Master Narative

In reviewing some materials on the Master Narrative, it seems that the "fair and balanced" model has become set in stone. Obviously, using competing sources and opposite sides to compare and contrast events is one way of assembling a product rooted in objectivity, but is making it the standard model of journalism really necessary--or right? Just as the standard economic model of supply and demand has shown to be less and less conducive to the changing times of a class divided society, showing all sides of a story as a way to balance opinion and fact in journalism seems to be equally limited in serving the general public. There are winners and losers in journalism and--even though they aren't as obvious as the winners and losers of economics, i.e. the rich and the poor--we can see an increase in the pervasiveness this trend. No longer is the pure and unaltered truth relevant in the media today, instead we see stories that balance boulders and pebbles on a troubling teeter-toter of fairness. Take this story on geoengineering.
In this story we see three sides to an issue when reporting was only needed on one. This piece, which in my opinion should have been largely informational in order to get the facts out to the public about certain less-well known responses to global warming (called geoengineering), has to share the floor with its competitors and quickly becomes a piece where geoengineers have to defend their position before the ever have a chance to state their position. I'm still not sure, beyond some crazy sounding idea titles such as "giant artificial 'trees,'" "'solar shade,'" and some sort of man-made volcano, of the exact stance of the geoengineers. However, this story flies because although most facts and evidences are neglected by the piece, the opinions involved are "balanced" and multiple sides are considered. This is similar to the horse-race type of election coverage in the US today where the issues and evidences are largely ignored, but the opinions about the candidates from experts are balanced and there for, an "objective" press is achieved. Objectivity has become code for 'neglecting the truth' in my opinion and I feel we should evaluate our present press system in which we have traded truth for trust. http://sfgate.comcgibin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/03/18/national/a105406d42.DTL