I just finished reading the book “Bias—A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News,” written by former CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg and published about five years ago. It hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.
So do I think the media slant the news? I thought they did long before Goldberg’s book. I’m a conservative who has worked in newspaper newsrooms for 22 years and much of what I saw and heard about media bias falls in line with what Goldberg has written—only it wasn’t as blatant.
People who refuse to recognize media bias probably won’t bother reading this book. As for the rest of you, here are eight ways to fight back. This list, by the way, is as effective for Democrats, liberals and others who think the media slant the news to the right.
- Complain to the media brass at offending TV stations, magazines and newspapers and go as high up the ladder as you can. Sinking ratings for programs like the evening news shows petrify the networks. And newspaper publishers are watching their circulation and paid advertising plummet so low that many of the big papers are laying off newsroom employees—again. I blogged about how to complain here.
- If you’re tuning out, let them know. If you’re canceling your subscription or pulling your advertising from places like your daily newspaper, say so. Media success is all about ratings, circulation and advertising.
- If you want a newspaper to continue covering you and you’re upset with the way you’ve been treated, you can write a letter to the editor or an op-ed column. But even better, you can ask for a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board. (See “How to Use Newspaper & Magazine Editorial Pages“.)
- Complain to the companies that advertise with the offending media outlet(s). This is even more effective than complaining to the media brass.
- Don’t forget to pitch the bloggers. Religion stories, for example, are particularly difficult to pitch to any section of a newspaper other than the religion page. One reason is because many journalists who work for mainstream media say in newswroom surveys that they don’t attend church services, so they often don’t see religious issues as very important. But many bloggers welcome religious topics. Bloggers also like linking to each other’s blogs, unlike traditional media which quote each other only when they have to. Don’t forget about the Religion News Service.
- If the media have treated you unfairly, let the bloggers know.
- 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.
- If you’re a conservative who can’t get your story into the mainstream media, you’ll find dozens of conservative talk radio shows and TV shows. If you’re a liberal who wants to complain about right-leaning media, you’ll find only a handful of liberal talk radio shows.
If you have other ways to fight back, let’s hear ’em.