Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Balance

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Dec 06, 2005

An anonymous commentator wrote to me on NewsTrolls: And while we're at it, why do we have to "balance" Rush Limbaugh, Laura Schlessinger and James Dobson? Idiot liberals like SD Idiot Editor whine when they balance evolution with intelligent design in schools, but when it comes to giving unrepresentative liberals a free ride in the media, it's a A-OK. Typical liberal hypocracy.

Nice argument. Except, I don't argue for balance.

After all, if balance is so good, why not argue that we ought to balance all that Christianity being taught in churches with a little paganism or even Satanism?

If balance is so good, why don't we balance all those family-oriented television shows during prime time with a little hard-core porn?

What is appropriate depends on the purpose or function of the medium in question.

It would be pretty ridiculous to balance a mathematics class by teaching about the doctrine of original sin. So also, it would be silly to balance a geography class by teaching about the Sermon on the Mount.

That's why intelligent design does not belong in science classes. Because the 'balance' it seeks to achieve would be inappropriate. Intelligent design no more 'balances' sciences than would a cheeseburger with a side of fries.

If you want your children to learn about intelligent design, take them to church.

In a similar manner, the 'balance' proposed for public media, including public television, is inappropriate.

The purpose of public television is to educate and to inform, and Rush Limbaugh, Laura Schlessinger and James Dobson do neither.

There is a place for politically motivated propaganda and attack broadcasting, but it is not on public television (nor is it in schools, and as for churches, I'll let the Deacons sort that one out).

Journalism, like science, is thus defined not by its subject area, nor even its point of view, but by its process and methodology. Indeed, the two are very similar; we might even think of journalism as the science of the now.

The point of that process and methodology is to provide the viewer with an accurate and relevant account of the state of affairs of the world, and this process and methodolgy has a basis in fact, investigation and research.

I no more expect to see 'balance' in the news than I would in a math class, and indeed, have criticized media in the past by distorting the accuracy of reporting in its attempt to seek just such a balance.

As I have noted before, to 'balance' a report by giving as much coverage to fourteen counter-demonstrators as to a protest of a hundred thousand people is to distort reality.

This is the sort of distortion we see from Rush Limbaugh, Laura Schlessinger and James Dobson every day. Their political objectives sway them to lavish their attention on the one side, which may be, for example, the counter-demonstrators, so much so that any resemblance to reality is lost in the process.

Rush Limbaugh, Laura Schlessinger and James Dobson no more resemble journalism than a turkey sandwich resembles a phys-ed class. They do not need to be 'balanced'. They need to be returned to the cesspool of political propaganda from which they emerged.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

Copyright 2024
Last Updated: Jul 18, 2024 6:49 p.m.

Canadian Flag Creative Commons License.