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 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.