Blog

Welcome to my blog where I will post commentary on issues ranging from fiction to public policy. Tucked away in the Idea Boxes are “how to” tips on a variety of projects that have become part of our family’s culture over the years. I hope you’ll find some useful ideas there. My blog will take you through the fantastic journey of writing fiction, as well as the decisions I will be making about publication of my first novel One Summer in Arkansas. Thanks for your interest.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When 1 + 1 = 0 in the Media

Over the past decade, the U.S. media—print, television, radio—has adopted a puzzling convention to report on complex subjects.

They seek out two experts on opposite sides of an issue, presumably in the interest of balance, and let them duke it out, generally in a personally offensive manner.

I’ve wondered whether our journalists borrowed this idea from the legal profession, since it’s the method used to argue cases in court, or whether it derived from some random Ph.D. thesis that gradually gained traction in journalism grad schools.

In any case, it isn’t working.  The smartest people realize they don’t have all the answers and that’s how they keep learning.  The kinds of experts who never doubt their own orthodoxy generally aren’t worth listening to.

What a pleasure it would be to hear a commentator admit that the big problems of our time are hard to fix and that he’s not completely sure which way we should go to try to improve things. 

Now, that would be an expert worth listening to.

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