November 24, 2010

Bloggers Weigh in on Koppel’s Cable Critique

Percentage of Links
Koppel on the News 30.2
Pollsters on Obama 22.6
Body Scanners 16.4
Deficit Task Force 5.7
Comparing Tax Plans 5.4

30% – Percentage of blogs linking to Ted Koppel’s Washington Post column

On November 14, the Washington Post published a column from former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel in which he criticized the opinionated hosts on MSNBC and Fox News.  "The commercial success of both Fox News and MSNBC is a source of nonpartisan sadness for me," wrote Koppel, lamenting a media environment that "flaunts opinions as though they were facts."

As it turned out, Koppel’s thoughts about the news inspired a major response from bloggers. Indeed, 30% of the links in blogs measured in PEJ’s New Media Index from November 15-19, 2010 were to that column. That made it the week’s No. 1 topic in the blogosphere.

While commentary in the blogosphere can often be polarized and partisan, many of those responding to Koppel’s criticism
of the news universe offered more nuanced and varied responses.

A number of the bloggers agreed with Koppel.

"Koppel is spot-on correct in saying that news is becoming infotainment. But that was a trend that began back in the 50’s and early 60’s and Murrow was the first to speak out about it," jurassicpork at Brilliant at Breakfast pointed out.

"What is important for us as listeners or readers is to be able to distinguish what is fact and what is opinion. It is amazing how many of us can’t," said Gary Fouse at fousesquak.

But not everyone thought Koppel was on the mark.

"Unfortunately, the pieces, the rebuttals, the debates, all seem to cast more heat than light, becoming part of the barrage of opinion all participants say they oppose," wrote knockmedown.

The other top five stories on blogs last week were largely Washington- and Washington Post-centric. No. 2 with 27% of links was another op-ed from the Washington Post by pollsters Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell arguing that Obama should not run for reelection. The third story (16%) was an op-ed by Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano lauding the safety and efficiency of  body scanners at airports. Next, (at 6%) was another Post op-ed, this one by the co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force on ways to reduce the debt. And rounding out the top five was a Washington Post graphic comparing the Democratic and Republican tax plans (5%).

Emily Guskin of PEJ