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Sep. 5 2009 - 12:25 pm | 7 views | 1 recommendation | 5 comments

The Washington Post and “Journamalism”

1. Journamalism: An attempt to report the news marred with shoddy research, fact suppression, or a mere retyping of the press release/talking points.

The Washington Post

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The Washington Post recently featured a story by reporter Monica Hesse that ran on the front of the Style section in which Hesse profiled Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM was active in supporting California’s Proposition 8, which took away gay couple’s rights to marry in that state, and the group continues to lead the fight against legalization of same-sex marriage. Hesse’s story was called “Opposing Gay Unions With Sanity & a Smile,” giving one a fairly accurate idea of how unbalanced the rest of the article is.

Hesse calls the bigot Brown “instantly likable,” a “thoughtful talker,” and describes how “he is pleasantly, ruthlessly sane.” Brown is the guy who claims gay people are demanding “special rights” as they fight for marriage equality. Quite frankly, he opposes gay marriage because he sees gay unions as alien, deviant, and something that must be contained and segregated from sanctimonious heterosexual unions. It doesn’t matter how cute his wife is, or how pretty his smile is, this is what the man believes even if he’s really “likable,” “thoughtful,” and “pleasant” while he does it.

The rest of the article carries on in this fashion. At no point does Hesse balance her pathetically worshipful coverage of Brown with testimonials from gay couples, or gay rights advocates. The entire article is essentially  a propaganda piece for the National Organization for Marriage.

To Hesse’s great surprise, she received a deluge of emails from gay marriage advocates after the article was printed. Worse than Hesse’s omission is this comment from her editor, Lynn Medford: “The lesson is to always, in some way, represent the other side.”

Yes, Lynn. That’s kind of critical to this whole “journalism” thing. A lot of the Post’s behavior suddenly makes sense to me. No one told them that shoddy research, fact suppression, retyping press releases and talking points, and totally marginalizing liberal advocates isn’t real journalism.


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  1. collapse expand

    Ms. Kilkenny,

    It is a common problem, people often confuse policy with the advocates of the policy. If the advocate of a policy is pleasant, intelligent, and presentable, the policy cannot truly be destructive. This is why wise and well funded movements hire professional spokespeople who have these characteristics. Lucky ones, like NOM, have them in house. I am sure that this distinction is taught in journalism school. In this case, the editors of the paper wanted a “fair and balanced” approach and wanted this “puff piece” to provide cover on their right. “See we cover both sides of the story”.

  2. collapse expand

    The nightmares of gay marriage supporters are the Pat Robertsons of the world. The James Dobsons, the John Hagees — the people who specialize in whipping crowds into frothy frenzies, who say things like Katrina was caused by the gays.

    The gay marriage supporters have not met Brian Brown. They should. He might be more worth knowing about.

    au contraire

    IMHO, Brown as actually worse than Pat Robertson. At least The latter can be discounted as a nut that supports his bigotry with biblical fairy tales. When someone smiles and tells me sweetly that i’m less than equal it’s even more insulting.

    A friendly bigot is still a bigot.

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