Sunday, April 28, 2013

One problem with Getreligion

I link up Getreligion's site, and I think they perform a valuable service in their kind of watchdog role over religious stories in the media. They're well-written, they're informative, and the points of view they deliver are usually solid.

The problem is, quite a lot of their posts are written in a way that takes the media to task for ignorance, or where an article's choice of wording is questioned... but there's this reflexive habit to regard the whole thing as a kind of "what a mystery this is" situation.

For example: why did an article refer to a murdered baby as a fetus? Strange choice of words, for the reasons Getreligion points out.

So Getreligion asks "why, why, why", but - at least in that article - they never suggest some of the obvious potential motivations. They hint at it, and frankly it's an underhanded pitch for anyone with some sense. But they never spell it out. This is the Getreligion standard - point out some situations of biased or questionable presentation, and then ask 'Why did they do this?'

I get that this can be viewed as the most balanced, attempting-to-be-fair way of presenting their observations. But many times I end up reading this and just finding the whole thing too clever, like being in a conversation with someone who wants to do their Columbo impersonation, pretending they're confused and bewildered as stage-drama instead of just getting to the point. Eventually the whole thing just gets dull.

I think part of the frustration is in seeing a site like Getreligion be tremendously perceptive in picking out bias - that sleight of hand between 'baby' and 'fetus' is something that would slip by many - but then they pull back and act as if it's all kind of a mystery. It's like watching Sherlock Holmes pick up a variety of obscure clues, lay out the logic that would indicate the guilty party, but instead of actually following through with an accusation he backs off at the last minute and says "But, you know, I'm not a cop - I'll let the police figure this one out" and the story ends right there.


rmatrgu said...

I think they are clinging to a view of journalism that is going out of fashion - one in which news reporting trumped advocacy. This has totally disappeared from UK mainstream journalism and seems to be on the wane in the US.

Crude said...

Yeah. Actually, putting it that way helps me frame it mentally. It reminds me of how many Christian bloggers seem to interact with Cult of Gnu style atheists: they make a lot of reference to said atheists being mistaken or misinformed or clearly not understanding such and such belief. The idea of 'they don't care, or they understand and are obscuring the detail, because honest conversation isn't the goal' just never comes up.

rmatrgu said...

By the way, (and feel free to scrub this comment when moderating rather than post it on the blog) that was an excellent series of comments on the Just Thomism blog in response to the vanishing claims of one of the atheist commenters. Great fun for the reader.

Crude said...

I hope you don't mind my publishing that - I'm going to be discussing that conversation on here soon (lately this blog serves as a reference point for all the lengthier discussions I get into), so this helps.

Glad you found it enjoyable. Pity the guy won't learn.