Towards a Better Press Corps

The Washington Post has another story today on Wal-Mart’s plan to offer lower pharmaceutical prices.  Today’s piece is far superior to the one I criticized earlier but the following sentence did catch my eye:

But the additions have not quelled skepticism of the program. In a
statement early this month, the National Community Pharmacists
Association, a trade group representing independent pharmacists, called
the rollout an "attempt to gain maximum public relations value while
providing minimum value to patients."

Ok, you don’t need a PhD in Public Choice to see the issue.  Nevertheless the "skepticism" expressed would have been better put into context had the sentence been written:

In a
statement early this month, the National Community Pharmacists
Association, a trade group representing many pharmacists in competition with Wal-Mart, called
the rollout an "attempt to gain maximum public relations value while
providing minimum value to patients."


Would that schools of journalism had this kind of analysis of reporting - we would not have as vigorous a set of alternatives to the MSM - because it would be doing its job. The Walmart story has continued to bother me. I wrote about it in their first effort and am amazed at the bias in the coverage of a real benefit to consumers.

In the interests of balance, I'd love to see how you would modify reporting in the right-wing media to better represent the implicit bias of interest groups.

Like when FOX NEWS reports: "Union-backed Wal-Mart critics have also accused the company..."

Not even a name or an organization. Just that the critics are 'union-backed' i.e. anti-consumer and thus anti-you. They also haven't 'asserted' or 'stated' or 'claimed', they 'accuse'.,2933,225424,00.html

Please though dissect the liberal media some more.

cal: How about this for a headline: "If government can't fix what ails Iraq, how can we expect it to fix our health care system?"


How is this different from the way the right approaches things? The issues are different, the moral assumptions are different, but the technique looks about the same. This has more to do with what sells advertising for the news shows, and what wins votes from marginally-informed voters, than with any kind of deep philosophical differences.

The "story today" and "criticized earlier" links both point to the same Washington Post URL. The "criticized Earlier" link probably should have pointed to a previous entry.


"I'll see a right wing press when I see sob stories about families that can't afford to pay for something because thye face a tax increase."

Unless they lie about it, you'll probably never see that ad. The Tax Foundation estimates 42.5 million Americans (one-third of all filers) don't pay any income tax. Non-Filers don't pay tax.

I wish you had to pay income tax to vote. There's some psychological trigger when you hand money to the government that makes you pay attention to how and on who they spend it. You'd be a more civic minded protector of economic liberty. Or a cold hearted scrooge.....


Thanks for your response.

My criticism of the left is not intended to make a party political point. I think that the future political alignment in liberal democracies will probably be two parties on the current right - a centre right (more libertarian, free market, modernizing party) and a further-right (more paternalistic, moralistic, pro-culture party).

The left will merge into a mish mash of 'rainbow coalition' counter-cultural and anti-modernization pressure groups: here in the UK an anti-modernization pressure group has solidified consisitng of the far left and radical Islamicists: obviously this is not an electable party but rather an 'anti' pressure group of the disaffected. They do have an influence on politics, but they do not have a coherent program.

That is the crux of my observation on the left: they do not (since 1989) have a coherent program.

Apologies for interrupting the bloviating with a few facts, but journalism schools do teach "close reading," as anyone who'd sat in on a class or two would know. And while the word "independent" may not satisfy folks who are ideologically predisposed to approve of whatever Wal-Mart does, it's accurate and terse, which is what news writing strives to be (though, granted, it doesn't always succeed). Finally, the death watch for the MSM seems premature when, according to, the top 30 most visited websites in the U.S. include CNN, the NY Times, the BBC, CBS sports, dinosaurs all, but only Digg and CNET among the newbies.

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