Monday, November 22, 2010

It's only unethical when it's called 'news'

On today's op-ed page, Tina Dupuy laments that the left doesn't have a strong, coordinated messaging operation, and makes the case for a sensible parallel to Fox News, leaving out the 'news' canard. Maybe she's missed it, but the left does indeed have the core of such a messaging operation, though we haven't had the wit to capitalize and build on it. It's called Comedy Central.

Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Mahr are doing their best to counter the right's agitprop in a more ethical and positive way, with common sense, facts and above all good humor. They treat voters with respect for their intelligence and encourage greater connection to the political world, in ways that no news organization can. This is exactly what Dupuy is asking for.

Because of the pervasive loss of journalistic integrity in our media across the board, younger voters especially are turned off by news and straight punditry. They build personalized information menus for themselves out of everything from Foreign Policy to Facebook, and teevee news is at best a minor player in the mix.

Progressives would do well to take the comics more seriously as a model for communication. Note that while they are not journalists in the traditional sense, they are very long on the integrity of their information. This is the key, engaging people, building trust over time and maintaining it.

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