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This is reminiscent of Jérôme's usual point about The Economist: that it contains useful information and analysis, even if its editorial line is militantly pro-liberal. This is not surprising: journals of record and repute like The Economist and the WSJ would not be efficient as propaganda outlets if they ceased to act as journals of record and repute. So it's entirely to be expected that certain reporting standards should be maintained.

However, with Robert Bartley's editorial tenure in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, and since, the WSJ has consistently used its stature as America's financial newspaper of record to disseminate, among the serious people that constitute its readership, radically pro-business and liberal-economic views. Chomsky here mocks the editorials as "comic strip", and yet they have carried out their function in the manufacture of an ultra-liberal common wisdom. The op-ed Cyrille refers to is just one more in a long line.

And the quality of reporting may be called in question, especially since Murdoch's takeover. According to Barry Ritholtz (yesterday) (click over there to see the headline he objects to):

Wall Street Journal Fail | The Big Picture

The Wall Street Journal was once the greatest American newspaper. Sure, the OpEd writers were insane idealogues, and there was the occasional drunk or pederast on the masthead. But overall, the quality of the writing was so good, and the objective look at business so sharp, investors could rely on it.

Today, Fox News seems to write the headlines. The influence of the partisan editorials has completely overtaken the entire paper.

In other words, to investors, it has become a gnarly mess of unreliable, EXPENSIVE partisan bias. Nothing is trustworthy on its pages anymore.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 10th, 2013 at 07:25:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Chomsky here mocks the editorials as "comic strip", and yet they have carried out their function in the manufacture of an ultra-liberal common wisdom.

Chomsky is quite capable of mocking something for its extremism AND understanding all-too-well how it functions to "manufacture ... the common wisdom" - he did write, with Herman: "Manufacturing Consent":


Now the elite media are sort of the agenda-setting media. That means The New York Times, The Washington Post, the major television channels, and so on (WSJ. TW). They set the general framework. Local media more or less adapt to their structure.

http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/1992----02.htm

I'm quite prepared to accept that Murdoch's takeover will have had some negative effect on the news reporting of the WSJ; but I'm OFTEN sceptical about claims which use words like "always",  "all", "nothing" etc. So I think this is an exagerration:

"Nothing is trustworthy on its pages anymore."

A more reasonable critique, from the Columbia Journalism Review, based on some indicative stats regarding decline in length of stories, includes this:


Certainly, the Journal still does lots of top-flight work, and most stories don't need 2,500 words. But many do, and how does going short as a policy help readers understand the really important stuff like systemic problems, corporate misbehavior, business innovation, or sweeping economic change?

http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/the_shorter-form_journal.php

There is a quite reasonable reply:

http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/charts_of_the_day_wsj_story-le.php

which is not to say that it is entirely correct :-)

But I think that, as Chomsky says, and as Jerome says of the Economist, they need to be reasonably accurate because their audience needs to have at least a reasonable approximation to the facts since they're making important decisions partly on the basis of such information. If they really provide "nothing" that can be trusted they will lose an important part of their readership. Murdoch's a shrewd enough businessman to understand that.

 

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Mar 10th, 2013 at 04:04:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ted Welch:
he did write, with Herman: "Manufacturing Consent":

Yeah. That's why I used the word "manufacture".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 10th, 2013 at 05:08:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If they really provide "nothing" that can be trusted they will lose an important part of their readership.

My own view is that one can trust anyone. It is just a matter of what they can be trusted to do, say, etc.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Mar 12th, 2013 at 02:22:52 PM EST
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