EDITORIAL – What readers deserve from their media

Inserted into today’s Cayman Compass, as it is every Monday, is a copy of The Washington Post National Weekly, which we publish under an agreement with the Washington Post News Service and Syndicate.

This publication, free to our readers, is a compendium of the best material The Post has published in the previous week and includes a wide offering of articles, ranging from politics and economics to arts and culture.

While “The Weekly” continues to be a high-quality publication, we are monitoring it closely to be certain it doesn’t become infected with the bias that has found its way into The Washington Post newspaper under the ownership of billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, who purchased The Post for $250 million from the Graham family in 2013.

Under the ownership of Bezos and the daily stewardship of his editor Martin Baron and editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, The Post is rapidly losing its reputation as a credible news organization.

This is most regrettable, since before Bezos bought it, The Post was widely viewed as one of the world’s most preeminent newspapers. Under the direction of its legendary editor Benjamin C. Bradlee, the newspaper for decades piled up Pulitzer Prizes and eventually reached its zenith with its Watergate coverage, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. (For disclosure, Compass Publisher David R. Legge worked for 12 years at The Washington Post Company.)

Compare the once-greatness of The Post with these recent headlines:

“Republicans nominate insane person, then panic when he proves he’s insane”

“The unbearable stench of Trump’s B.S.”

“Donald Trump makes his most dangerous comments yet”

“Post interview should terrify Republicans”

“The Republican Party has lost its soul”

“Donald Trump’s ignorance about sexual harassment”

“There is something very wrong with Donald Trump”

This is not journalism, opinion or otherwise, and it is certainly not the journalism we have come to expect from a great newspaper. Either Mr. Bezos and his top editors do not know what they’re doing – or they don’t care.

All of this has relevance in Cayman, not just because the Compass distributes The Washington Post Weekly but because of the critically important role that the media everywhere play in a democracy – and in their communities.

Consider this troubling but salient study conducted recently by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It found that just 6 percent of American adults have a “lot of confidence” in the media. That’s about the same percentage of Americans who have confidence in the U.S. Congress, one of the lowest-ranked institutions anywhere.

Readers have every right to expect basic fairness, objectivity and accuracy in their news pages, as well as on radio and television broadcasts. (Opinions in print publications, of course, should be expressed ONLY on editorial pages (this page) where at the Compass we include editorials, syndicated columns, letters to the editor, political cartoons, etc.)

At the Compass we are well aware of the responsibility and accountability that go along with publishing a daily newspaper. We have multiple layers of pre-print safeguards, including skilled reporters, careful editors, fact checkers and proof readers. They are backed up by knowledgeable (and cautious) lawyers whom we regularly consult to ensure that our articles are neither defamatory nor libelous and meet various local legal criteria.

And do we still make errors? Unfortunately, we do. Part of the challenge is the speed at which a daily newspaper is produced (it would astonish most readers). Literally hundreds of decisions go into publishing each issue.

While all errors are regrettable, some are more venial than others (such as grammatical or syntactical missteps). Significant factual errors are more serious, and we correct them willingly and promptly.

What The Washington Post and too many other newspapers are doing is of a far different magnitude. They are abandoning any pretense of fairness or objectivity in their reporting, and their readers and advertisers are abandoning them.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Well said. I too have noticed the continuous attacks in the Washington Post on Donald Trump on a daily basis.
    Each day 4 out of 5 articles about him are violently anti Trump.

    Now i must say in fairness that Donald Trump pretty much draws fire with his habit of constantly being insulting and on the attack himself.

    But as you say, Washington Post opinions should be reserved for their opinion page and not be part of every article that mentions Trump. They should report the facts only.

    Of course the same can be said for the New York Times.

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  2. Years ago major newspapers scoffed at the ridiculous (their word) articles that appeared in The National Enquirer. More and more, those same newspapers are doing what they can to become what they once detested. It is a shame.

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  3. Well C C if the National Weekly, Washington Post is so bias news media, which I know and believe. Who gave the Washington Post and the National Weekly permission to be in existence in the Cayman Islands? Then we should have been more careful with making that agreement. But I think that both shouldn’t be in circulation in the Cayman Islands, because media like them are interfering too much in the Democratic society, that why they are bias and loosing their readership.

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  4. I was commenting only last week how the Compass does an exemplary job of being a good conscience and watchdog for Cayman, reporting as honestly and fully as one might expect. Thank you for that.

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  5. I disagree.

    Katharine Weymouth, the former publisher and owner of the Washington Post still serves as an advisor to the company today.

    Fred Ryan, the current CEO was the former founder of Politico, well respected for the impact his media outlet made on political reporting in Washington and beyond (for unbiased reporting standards, etc.). The fact that Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post it seems moot. Note: he’s made both donations to both the Democratic and Republican party.

    Largely, the headlines you quote in your editorial (“an opinion piece”, let’s not forget) are factual since they are based on actual, quotable comments.

    The Washington Post is unbiased in it’s attack on either candidate or party.

    Example:

    ‘Hillary Clinton’s historical problem with honesty’

    Largely, the headlines we’re reading are based upon the commentary actually made by the person of reference and frankly, if you read the content it seems more than fair that the media outlet are allowed to create headlines that, represent the content of the report.

    Please let the readers of the Cayman Compass know in your opinion piece, that your own publishers are openly, Republican supporters. It’s possible, you’re really just defending the Republican party because you simply don’t like reading those headlines (even if they are based on fact). The last Grand Cayman Magazine editorial clearly shows your political views where you indeed comment on the opposition in a not-so-friendly way. Should I stop reading that publication because your report openly states your disdain for Mrs. Clinton?

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  6. What I see and read here in the USA is mostly every News Media’s don’t bring the story like how it is or don’t cover it at all , depend on which party Democrat / Republican , that why Donald Trump says that most News media is unfair and against him .

    Sarah , can you tell the public how many times that those News Media’s you mentioned has covered storis on Ms Clinton and Mr Trump ? The answer could say who they are for and who they are against .

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