I rarely agree with ultra-liberal Reno Gazette-Journal columnist Cory Farley about anything, but I found myself nodding in agreement as I read a column he wrote last Sunday about "the media."
"Reporting that something happened isn't bias," Farley wrote, "it's reporting." He was responding to a reader who complained that "the media didn't have to be so gleeful" about the outcome of the so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations earlier this month. National Public Radio (NPR) didn't seem gleeful, Farley replied, but MSNBC "sort of did," while Fox News blamed everything on President Obama and the Democrats
Well, I can relate to Farley's comments because most of my senior coffee and lunch buddies, especially those without journalistic experience, like to blame "the media" for all of the woes of the world. "The media this" and "the media that," they say, without knowing what they're talking about because "the media" is an amorphous and very diverse entity.
On second thought, it's not an entity at all. Rather, it's a hodge-podge of diverse print outlets, radio and TV networks and stations, and super-tendentious Internet blogs, most of which spew a steady stream of non-journalistic nonsense. So it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what's under discussion when people go off on "the media."
After writing columns for nearly 17 years, I'm still surprised when readers try to stuff me into narrow political boxes. One of my proudest moments was when the Appeal published two letters on the same day, one accusing me of being a wild-eyed liberal and the other classifying me as a dangerous right-winger. Through it all I still classify myself as a moderately conservative states' rights Nevada Democrat. You can interpret that description through your own political filter.
In any case my mission isn't to convert you to my way of thinking, but merely to throw my opinions out there for what they're worth, if anything. You don't have to agree with me, but if my columns cause you to think about important political issues, like gun control or immigration, I've accomplished my main objective.
As fellow columnist Cory Farley wrote last weekend, "Columnists sometimes take sides . . . You can argue with them all you want. The news pages, though, are still held for what used to be called 'straight reporting,' a reflection of reality. If you don't like what you find there, check your reality." Well said, Cory!
It's important to distinguish between straight reporting and opinion journalism. Reporters write straight news stories while columnists, radio and TV commentators and editorial writers offer opinions. For example, most newspaper reporters and TV news people are journalists but broadcast blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on the right, and Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz on the left, should never be classified as journalists because they distort the news to serve their own ideological and political agendas. If that's where you get your "news," think again. And as for me, I'm right where I want to be - somewhere in the moderate middle confounding extremists at both ends of the political spectrum.
• Guy W. Farmer has been writing political columns for the Appeal since 1996.