False Equivalence in Journalism

Perhaps one of the most pernicious and corrosive aspects of modern popular journalism is the tendency to present stories in a so-called “he said/she said” format. For example, the Democrats say one thing, the Republicans say something different, and the views are presented with little-to-no factchecking. The views are also presented as equivalent, no matter how skewed or wrong the facts might be on one or both sides. This is sometimes known as “false equivalence”.

The Beat the Press blog at Center for Economic and Policy Research mentioned that NPR Ends He Said/She Said┬ájournalism. I had some trouble finding the specifics at NPR’s Ethics Handbook. Still, this is a good sign. Partisan reporting certainly has its place but not in broad news producers.

I find it particularly noxious when Fox, which is a decidedly partisan organization, proclaims a slogan like “fair and balanced.” Quite a newspeak kind of assertion.