I am remiss in not posting this sooner – visiting family and the holiday weekend threw me a little out of sorts.
Last Friday, New Mexico Independent commentator Arthur Alpert penned an interesting piece on media bias.
The final half of the commentary focuses on a recent Albuquerque Journal story regarding President Obama’s recent visit to Rio Rancho. Alpert’s point is that the headline doesn’t really capture the essence of the story. Instead, it more accurately captures the slant Journal editors are trying the put on the story by carefully crafting a headline that meets their political predilection.
There are many capable and honest reporters at the Albuquerque Journal who take their jobs very seriously. The problem with the Journal is not with the reporters – it’s with the management and the editors. Alpert sums this fact up with this pointed statement:
Journal reporters’ virtues make its editors’ inability to play fair very sad.
You said it, Mr. Alpert.
We here at Clearly New Mexico are no strangers to Albuquerque Journal editors and their purposeful manipulation of news stories. Take the following examples.
Some New Mexico nonprofit organizations that appear to stray into the political arena could face new disclosure requirements as part of the fallout from a direct mail campaign that targeted a group of lawmakers last year.
The proposed legislation appears to be aimed at nonprofit organizations like Brix’s, which last year helped organize the direct mail campaign that carefully skirted the IRS definitions of political activity.
-Jeff Jones and Colleen Heild of the Albuquerque Journal, February 15, 2009. Click here for the full story (you may need a subscription).
An Albuquerque nonprofit that insists it wasn’t playing politics when it helped send out mailers targeting a handful of state lawmakers last year has engaged in past political work that includes identifying and training potential candidates, according to a report now circulating in New Mexico political circles.
Legislation aimed at requiring financial disclosure from nonprofits that stray into the political arena was introduced in the last session but died in committee.
-Jeff Jones and Colleen Heild of the Albuquerque Journal, April 19, 2009. Click here for the full story (you may need a subscription).
When writing a factual news story, phrases like “straying into the political arena,” “carefully skirted” and “engaged in past political work” should be phrased as opinions. And, those opinions should be properly attributed to someone. Instead, in the stories referenced above, Albuquerque Journal editors pass off opinion – their opinion – as fact.
The Albuquerque Journal has shown itself, time and again, to be incapable of maintaining a proper firewall between the editing of news stories and the production of actual editorial (opinion) content. The editors at the Albuquerque Journal, as Arthur Alpert correctly points out, have a political agenda. Readers ought to take note of this when seeking news and information from the largest daily in the state.
The Journal has long touted itself as the state’s “Paper of Record,” a term that implies that it covers everything and covers it fairly. The Journal also pays great lip service to the idea that its news gatherers and editors are “objective,” hewing to the old-fashioned traditional journalistic principle that a newspaper can produce coverage with no bias.
The Journal makes a great show of playing by those rules, but its coverage shows otherwise.
Simply put, the editors at the Albuquerque Journal habitually ignore the long-standing newspaper industry firewall between news content and editorial content.