Taking Sides

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Kazzy

One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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17 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    It’s a meta- trick. You set the boundaries of what is and what is not acceptable. Then you say that you’re not going to pick anything within the boundaries because, hey, that wouldn’t be fair.

    That’s why George Will is about as far right as you get on the Sunday Morning shows and David Corn is about as far left.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

      “It’s a meta- trick. You set the boundaries of what is and what is not acceptable. Then you say that you’re not going to pick anything within the boundaries because, hey, that wouldn’t be fair.”

      And I wouldn’t object to that if they owned that that is what they were doing.

      Also, no meta. :-pReport

  2. Avatar Miss Mary says:

    I’m a big advocate for using the language that makes sense to the people we are talking about. Heck, I’m practically a walking advertisement in the “spread the word to end the word” campaign as I teach person-centered language in my professional life. You/they are taking sides as soon as you advocate to use terminology that the person in question has requested (or the majority, you can’t please everyone all the time). You take the side of respect. As much as I appreciate unbiased reporting, Kazzy is right, certain decisions in life signal the level of support you are providing. No one can be completely unbiased and so, as long as you are being respectful and reasonable, I appreciate the effort to let others make up their own minds.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    In most of the rest of the world, the idea that a newspaper or media outlet should be non-partisan and not take sides is seen as silly. They accept that certain newspapers go for certain segments or groups in the population and cater to those groups and take sides on issues. Most American newspapers operated differently for most of American history. They might have a slight preference towards one party or another but they generally felt that they should stick to the facts and let people come to their own conclusions. Its only recently that our newspapers grew more obviously partisan and a lot of people don’t like it.Report

    • Avatar Rod Engelsman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Well, we used to have a hell of a lot more newspapers as well. Even small communities would have more than one and any decent sized city could have a dozen or more. Now, with all the consolidation, there are only a very small number of cities that have even two. So the remaining rag is, by definition, the “paper of record” for that town. And that’s when objectivity and impartiality become important in a way that it doesn’t when there are multiple outlets.

      When you become the local monopoly you become sort of like a public utility and it behooves you to act like it.Report

    • “Most American newspapers operated differently for most of American history. They might have a slight preference towards one party or another but they generally felt that they should stick to the facts and let people come to their own conclusions. Its only recently that our newspapers grew more obviously partisan and a lot of people don’t like it.”

      I suspect this is not correct. If you look at most newspapers pre-World War I, you’ll find what you would probably recognize as blatantly partisan stances in the reporting of the news. I suppose this is something that’s not exactly testable, because what’s blatant to me might not be blatant to you, but it’s hard to come to a different conclusion.Report

  4. Avatar Stillwater says:

    This is a tricky issue for me. Not in the sense that I’m undecidedly fippityfloppy, but trick in terms of finding the right language to describe it. Here’s a try.

    The simple fact that the NYT claims it doesn’t take sides on issues (or more accurately, that it’s not their “job” to take sides, which is different) expresses such a deep level of ideological indoctrination on the part of the spokesperson it actually acts to reinforce the idea that one of the central roles of The Paper of Record is to disseminate propaganda. Or in other words, to take sides.Report

  5. Avatar Matty says:

    The “not taking sides” claim can be a neat way for a newspaper to persuade people that their side is not one alternative among many but is simply fact. Admit to taking sides and your claim that “those people are all bad” suddenly looks more like an opinion and less like The Truth (TM).Report

  6. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Indoctrination all up in your face, kid!

    My new mission in life is to use this phrase at least once per day.Report

  7. Avatar FridayNext says:

    I think this discussion is even more stark when you consider the NYT’s and Bill Keller’s decision not to use the word “torture” when describing acts like water boarding when Americans do it, but to use it when discussing others. Sullivan has been on this case from the beginning and has been fascinating to follow.

    Also, as an aside, when I was going through teacher training during the first Bush administration, “values education” was hip. We had the same arguments then. People thought teachers had no business teaching values. I am still not sure how a teacher DOESN’T teach values.Report

  8. Several years ago, Larry Gross wrote a story about the effect of Abe Rosenthal’s personal antipathy toward homosexuality on the paper’s coverage of anything related to the issue. (Among more serious shortcomings, the paper’s guidelines prohibited use of the term “gay” until 1987, after Rosenthal retired.) Though I don’t have a link, I remember an interview with Gina Kolata, NYT health/science writer, in which she talked about the difficulty of writing about what was being learned about AIDS transmission when her editor at the SF Chronicle told her she could not use the term “anal sex.”

    While I find it objectionable to refer to people as “illegal,” at least in using terminology that falls within parameters that are acceptable, currently, to the NYT, the paper is able to report on the immigration issue and in particular on how it affects individuals. This doesn’t really get to your central point, but often when language is deemed inappropriate it is because the entire subject is deemed inappropriate, not just various terminology that pertain to that subject. That is most definitely taking sides.Report

  9. Avatar Will H. says:

    I take this as a good sign.
    It’s about time we started applying the term “WOP” to people of all ethnicities.
    With this new change in policy, maybe WOPs can finally get their own Hallmark holiday.
    To ask the banks to take five on their account would be going too far.Report

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