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National Conference for Media Reform -- Day 2 of News Hounds Do St. Louis

Reported by Judy - May 14, 2005

The elephant in the living room came into sharper focus
Saturday (May 14) at the National Conference for Media Reform in a panel on holding the media accountable. In this case, the elephant is really a fox, as in Fox News.

David Brock of Media Matters appeared on the media accountability panel to talk about MM's efforts to point out the errors and misinformation that appear on television, the internet, radio, and in newspapers. Brock is like a really serious News Hound, a News Hound without our emotion and irreverent attitudes.

Brock says the mainstream media does respond to criticism that is factual, well-researched, and responsible, whether it is from the right-wing echo chamber, the blogosphere, or Media Matters.

Brock also monitors conse4rvatives in mainstream media. Recently, he pressured Bob Novak into correcting a statement he made distorting a statement DNC Chairman Howard Dean made, for example.

The hardeest nut to crack, though, is right wing media, which includes Fox News. Since they are less professional, Brock said, the right-wing media is less concerned about really being accurate or fair. What monitoring the right-wing media can do, however, is keep track of the outrageous state4ments, misstatements, and so on, of Sean Hannity and his ilk so that liberal guests on those shows are prepared. "We can inject the truth" by giving guests the pattern of distortion of the show hosts, he said. Pointing out their mistakes also helps make Fox unacceptable, he said.

Brock said that the mainstream media is too polite to take on Fox as unprofessional. "They know that the Fox News Network is dishonest, but they won't write that," he said.

A former Los Angeles Times journalist who teaches investigative reporting at the University of Iowa said the mainstream media appreciates well-researched criticism. "We are in a constant battle day in and day out with corporate management. ... The way to change us is not through rantings... but through well-researched criticism....It gives us material to confront our own managers," he said.

This News Hound also spoke at the panel during the question and answer session, urging people to copy the News Hound monitoring of Fox at the local level. In areas where Sinclair Broadcasting or a Fox News affiliate has a license up for renewal, a blog could gather information to challenge the renewal.

A critical element of the success of any blog, however, is the community of commenters that is created. We have the best commenters in the world here. That's part of what keeps us going.

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