Archive for ‘Media matters’

August 20, 2012

What’s a blogger to do?

by thoughtfulconservative

In case you haven’t noticed, more and more news sites are limiting the access to their online articles unless you’re an online subscriber in some way. The most notable here in SE Wisconsin is JSOnline, the online presence of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which limits access to 20 articles per month (This can be “hacked” but I’m not going to tell you how and it is somewhat inconvenient).

They are certainly not the first. The Waukesha Freeman has been doing something similar by limiting which articles you could access and how soon it could be done.

Other web sites that I visit are beginning to do the same thing. The Orlando Sentinel, the Mansfield News Journal, and the LA Times,  out of state sites that I go to have recently begun a policy similar to the Journal Sentinel. Others are Gannett newspapers like the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Appleton Post-Crescent, Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter and Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.

I don’t blame these sites. It’s their prerogative to  do what they wish about their web presence.

My intent is to look at how this affects blogs and bloggers like me who link to news sources.

I could certainly subscribe to these websites and should. But if I link to these sites too much, my readers, less likely to have subscribed to these sites, would go over their limit for free articles.

Of course at the rate I’ve been posting lately, this is unlikely to happen and I can still, if available, link to a similar article on a different site. Even if I posted like I did a few years back, it might not happen.

But it’s still a trend that will continue to impact bloggers like me.

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June 14, 2011

Claiming persistent bias, Democratic Party to stop taking PolitiFact’s calls.

by thoughtfulconservative

Accusing the Journal Sentinel’s continuing feature PolitiFact of persistent bias, leaders of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin say they will no longer respond to inquiries from the fact-checking operation’s reporters.

The party leadership acted after a series of PolitiFact stories they considered unfair, as well as an overall assessment that in its judgments about what to cover as well as its assessments of truth and falsity, “it just seems consistently weighted to one side,” [DPW communications director Graeme] Zielinski says.

via Inside Milwaukee – Dine, Shop, Entertainment and more.

I’m well-acquainted with the Right’s suspicion of PolitiFact, having originated with the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald, both well-known left-leaning newspapers in Florida. The Right is also suspicious of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of it’s left-leaning tendencies.

I’m also aware of the left side of the Cheddarsphere’s frustration with the Journal Sentinel which they lump together in one big lump with WTMJ 620 and WTMJ 4 under the Journal Communications, Inc. parent company. They believe the organization is right-leaning based on the WTMJ 620 talkers, Patrick McIlheran and others. I believe they also uncovered one of the Board of Directors contributing to a Republican candidate, bu I can’t put my hand on the link right now.

PolitiFact responded.

In a statement today, the Journal Sentinel editor in charge of PolitiFact, Greg Borowski, stood by the impartiality of the feature.

“At PolitiFact Wisconsin, our mission is to serve our readers by examining political statements to determine their accuracy — but also to identify where those statements are inflated, misleading or simply wrong. We do this by turning to outside sources to provide context to the issue, as well as by clearly stating how we came to the conclusion we did and what sources and reasoning we used to get there,” Borowski said.

Both left and right have had their problems with PolitiFact. One source of contention is the “Truth-o-meter” which does often seem pretty subjective. Other popular fact-checkers don’t have anything comparable, to my knowledge. As the author of the article writes,

Even so, PolitiFact’s critics have a point, but it’s a bit more complicated than partisan bias. The larger problem remains in its simplistic rating system and especially the incendiary “Pants on Fire” category, which doesn’t appear to be consistently applied.

He also notes,

Here [in wisconsin] the criticism has been most vocal among political activists on the left.

I not sure why that is. I sure my friends on the right think they’re biased, too; they just don’t seem to write about it.If they are some links to right-leaning posts, I would be glad to share them here.

By contrast, the national PolitiFact operation appears to get more criticism from conservatives.

Zielinski, who once worked for the Journal Sentinel, went on to say,

“We will deal with the Journal Sentinel. We have to,” he says. “It’s the largest newspaper in the state. We have good relationships with many of their reporters.”

But PolitiFact, he says, “is an instrument that we don’t think profits us anything, because we believe we’ve worked in good faith with them and not seen fair results.”

The writer of the article then states,

On the one hand, a casual examination of how party affiliation lines up with ratings from True to Pants-on-Fire makes doesn’t make an obvious case of bias for or against either side of the political spectrum. (You can see for yourself; if you disagree, feel free to comment below.)  Did you know, for instance, that 17 of Gov. Scott Walker’s 27 statements to be rated so far have been labeled as “Barely True,” “False,” or (in one instance) “Pants on Fire”? That seems difficult to square with a claim of consistent bias against Democrats.

No doubt the comment section will fill fast.

He sums up,

Perhaps the single biggest improvement in PolitiFact would be if there was just a little less of it, with topics more carefully chosen.

That might be something to shoot for. We don’t need a daily truth detector; and we don’t expect it to be perfect.

And, please, get rid of the “truth-o-meter.”