Monday, January 30, 2006

HOW TO FIGHT MEDIA BIAS--NOT: It's actually fairly easy to fight media bias. You sit down, put a piece of paper in the old Royal, and type out a lucid and intelligent letter of complaint. Now, there's an excellent chance that won't accomplish anything, but at least you got it out of your system. You can always throw the Royal through the window if the answer is unsatisfactory-- as it probably will be -- or if you are ignored.

There are other good things you can do about media bias that were listed recently in a blog called Publicity Hound that I just saw linked today by the SABEW blog. The author of the blog, Joan Stewart, offers eight suggestions. I think seven of them are perfectly fine, but I have a problem with No. 7:
If you’re lucky enough to have a tape-recording or a written transcript of an interview you did with the media, you can fight back by posting it on your website, like Overstock.com President Patrick Byrne did following an interview with BusinessWeek e-commerce editor Timothy Mullaney—before the story was published on BusinessWeek’s magazine or on its website. You can read more about it here.

With all due respect to Ms. Stewart, whose general concern about media bias I tend to share, I think this not a very good idea.

Sure, if you've been misquoted, then I would say yes, posting a transcript is totally understandable. However, Byrne was not upset with a biased article. He was concerned with what he saw as a biased reporter, which is an entirely different ball of wax. (Not there was any actual evidence of "bias," I must hasten to add.)

The problem with this approach is that it is going to be construed as an attempt to intimidate the media. Not that Byrne would ever stoop to doing such a thing. Perish the thought! But it is going to be viewed that way anyway.

In Wall Street Versus America I point out how inadequate so much media coverage of the Street has tended to be. Reporters are just not motivated. What Byrne has done is to find a way to motivate reporters! And it will work, believe you me. Your coverage won't be favorable, but there will be plenty of it.

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