Lying Media Bastards

April 25, 2005

Take This Job and Shove It

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Last week, media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) sent out one of its Action Alerts, which told its subscribers about a particular news story and encouraged the readers to take action. Specifically, the alert claimed that a recent Washington Post article about Senator Trent Lott minimizes his ties to racism, and urged concerned readers to write to the article’s author and complain.

Today, the Post published an article in response by the article’s author, sort of your standard “the article might not have been perfect, but we didn’t do anything wrong”, no-apology apology. Part of the article read:

I don’t like write-in campaigns. I don’t like my e-mail queue, and the e-mail of others writing in about other things, overwhelmed by hundreds of people saying essentially the same thing, in large part because somebody alerted them to something and suggested what to say. For that comment, I will now get 700 more e-mails asking how dare I impugn their assessment. I much prefer original commentary from readers, or one letter directly from FAIR laying out its critique. On the other hand, even though such campaigns are annoying, and frequently partisan, it doesn’t mean that the points raised are not legitimate challenges.

Which struck me as fairly reasonable. What writer would want to deal with hundreds of angry readers, or readers who disagreed with the way that you did your job?

Then I read this screed by Steve Gilliard on the subject and was puzzled. Why was everyone jumping all over this? It wasn’t till halfway through the comments to Gilliard’s post that I realized I’d made a huge error here. FAIR hadn’t encouraged people to write the reporter, they’d encouraged people to write the ombudsman. And the author of the response to FAIR’s campaign was also the ombudsman.

Jesus, the ombudsman, the guy who’s fucking job is to listen to and evaluate the complaints of readers wrote an article to bitch about the fact that he hates it when readers write him and complain!

Yes, I imagine it’s irritating to be on the receiving end of such a complaint barrage, but that’s the point. If a media outlet doesn’t receive messages from hundreds or thousands of people, there is no incentive for them to do a damn thing. And this poor ombudsman, he received hundreds of letters and had to actually move his ass in response.

We all hate our jobs sometimes (or all the time), but man, having a job that is allegedly about serving the public and then disdainfully announcing to the world that serving the public irritates you… that’s bound to piss off the public and your boss.

Posted by Jake on April 25, 2005 9:18 pm

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