Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/26/2004 | Center Square | Cries of 'media bias' hide sloppy thinking
There's no such thing as a completely objective journalist, but 99 percent of issues can be dealt with by sticking to one of journalism's oldest rules: show, don't tell. Don't assert anything if you can't show it with evidence or attribute it to a credible source or two (no "unidentified sources" unless absolutely necessary). The other 1 percent of issues arise from news judgment. Reporters want a good story, so they look for conflict and surprise, and that's by far the biggest motivator and usually the main conduit for bias. If something works like it's supposed to, and everyone's happy, where's the story?
The Internet is a wonderfully efficient factchecker. Not because everything on it is true, it's because it is so easy for people on the Internet to let you know you've screwed up. Nothing moves faster than an email telling you that you've made a mistake in a news article. You'll know in seconds. That's what bloggers (or anyone with an email address) are best at.
What's interesting about the CBS case, is that it's a mistake in the 99 percent portion of journalism. They simply didn't check their evidence, nor were they transparent about the attribution for their assertions. And, for what? A story that says Bush used influence to get into the National Guard to avoid Vietnam? Is this a surprise? Has anyone really disputed this?