Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Honduras and O'Grady

If you're curious about the quality of the Honduran paper La Prensa, it is worth noting that one of their sources of information is Mary Anastasia O'Grady. In this particular case, they cited her rambling article about Honduras, the FARC, Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, and Communist parties.

This reminded me of a recent post by Stephen Walt about things he found baffling. Here is one:

I certainly don't get the business model that informs the content of the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page. The rest of the newspaper is an excellent news source, with reportage that is often of very high quality. The editorial page, by contrast, is often a parody of right-wing lunacy: the last refuge of discredited neoconservatives, supply-siders, and other extremists. Do the Journal's editors really think democracy is best served by offering the public such a one-sided diet of opinion? Do they feel no responsibility to offer a wider range of views to their readers, as the rival Financial Times does? More importantly, wouldn't their market share (and profits) be increased if they offered a more diverse range of views?


mike a,  9:06 AM  

I don't agree. The WSJ editorial page is more or less targeted to counter the left-leaning NYT, even more so after Murdoch purchased the Journal. He has explicitly and implicitly stated that his goal is to grow the brand and become more of a national news source, and not just a place for business news. Fox News has built the leading cable news channel centered on right wing opinions - the Journal has the same potential, I suppose. Look at it this way - no business reader will be more (or less) inclined to buy the Journal because of its op-ed page. They will buy it no matter what. However, a right-leaning WSJ can in fact help expand their audience to non-business readers, much like Fox News has done on cable.

Whether or not the majority of journalists and the academic community agree with their opinions has no bearing on the merits of the business model. Fox News has proved that in spades.

mike a,  9:10 AM  

And for the record, I don't like the opinions of Fox News. But I think Murdoch & Co. have done a remarkable job disrupting the incumbents and building a successful business. That is to be admired.

pc 2:54 PM  

I think the problem with that idea is that the WSJ op-ed page is not analogous to the NY Times page. The Times is slightly lefty in a very mainstream way, and rarely bucks popular moderate opinion at all. It was a relentless critic of Bill Clinton over Whitewater, to take one example. The WSJ is closer to Michael Moore. I dont remember it ever slamming a Republican from the left the way the Times often hits Dems from the right.

The Laughing Crow 4:58 PM  

It's a classic case of "Not-my-wing therefore evil" mentality that most journalists have. Don't try to babble on about unbiased media, there is no such thing. People only describe media as unbiased when it carries their same bias.
Journalism is a business and they must cater to their audience to get more ratings.

mike a,  6:07 PM  

The WSJ indeed hits at the Republicans when they deserve it. Peggy Noonan has been highly critical of both George W Bush and Sarah Palin on the Op-Ed page of the WSJ. I think they are more than even handed (in a right-leaning sort of way).

pc 12:27 AM  

Are we talking about the editorial page commentators or the editorials themselves? There's a substantial difference there. I'm referring to the unsigned editorials, not the columns.

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