Overcompensation

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

The New Republic's Jonathan Chait writes of his membership in Journolist:

For people like me, the national debate mostly revolves around a liberal-moderate-conservative axis, and more hard-left or even traditional liberal views are fairly marginal. Journolist brought people like me into contact with a lot of those sort of liberals, and my main response was to realize that I'm a lot less liberal than I had thought.

This relates to something I've long argued: Many journalists think they're more liberal than they really are, which leads them to produce journalism that favors the Right. When a slightly liberal person who thinks his reporting should be as down-the-middle as possible mistakenly believes he is very liberal, the result is going to be reporting that often favors conservatives. It's a classic case of over-compensation.

In a town in which the Brookings institution and The New Republic have long been considered liberal entities, a lot of slightly-left-of-center journalists haven't, as Chait says, spent much time around people with "hard-left or even traditional liberal views." Both the "Left" and the "Center" are further to the left than they think. That might not matter as much were more journalists to adopt Jay Rosen's suggestion that they transparently report from their own perspective rather than trying to report from where they think the center is.

Person
Jay Rosen, Jonathan Chait
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