I'm so tired of a politically neutral press corps.
It is, first of all, unworkable. We come into this world politically neutral. Soon afterwards, society, friends, parents, teachers, and the rest of the world inflicts a series of unconscious and conscious biases and heuristics onto us. Of course we're politically biased. And those biases inevitably influence article choice, word choice, phrase choice, and selection of facts. As the depiction of the world found in a news article is inevitably incomplete, it will be skewed. Legions of stupid bloggers have found their reason to breathe in the constant cataloging of journalistic deviations from some imagined neutral land.
But who gives a shit? Who cares if a paper or news station is biased? It's a free country. The news can do whatever they like, write whatever they choose. No one has to buy the end result, and increasingly, no one does. I recognize that many people cling to a model of journalism amusingly called 'the fourth estate,' where the news occupies some vital civic function that requires a level of neutrality. Such that the unthinking masses must receive carefully grey news to become proper citizens.
I call bullshit on this. It doesn't matter one bit on a civic level whether or not the news is unbiased. First, it is biased, inevitably. Second, consciously unbiased news is boring, and boring news is easily avoidable. As a tedious assembly of facts in a pyramid, constrained style, it holds no candle to the fiery rhetorical weight and fun wordgames of unconstrained biased writing. Look at England, where London supports masses of fun, free papers with real personality and passion. Somehow, the Polis survives. Third, the current model isn't working. Unbiased papers and stations are fading and dying. If we want any fourth estate at all, we need a new, better model that can compete with the Daily Show and Fox News. Fourth, the idea that consumers will be ill-informed because most get their news from only one source is a fading concept. Younger readers rarely if ever read one outlet -- I probably read nine-ten.
Finally, we can already see what the world will look like once papers and stations feel free to be biased. And it's not bad at all. As in England, we can expect news outlets to divide themselves along a political spectrum, roughly equivalent to the market share of those opinions. As with everything else in american politics, they will cluster around the center, with a few outliers. The resulting outpour of news will be generally the same, with the few disputed political facts sharply visible by the divide between papers and the struggle in the surrounding blogs.
More people will read news because it'll be more interesting -- the Fox News effect. Newspapers will find their true calling by contextualizing the news, repackaging the same facts for consumption. And, most importantly of all, we will no longer waste time and effort critiquing the news for some mythical level of neutrality. The only possible critique will be on the factual correctness of the news, and how it works in the wider political sphere.
Of course, my real goal with all of this is to kill off the horrible, small-minded bloggers that relentlessly look for bias in every headline. But I'll accept a smarter, less hypocritical news sphere as a side bonus.