Taking the initiative to edit a New York Times report about a Palestinian rock attack on Jewish civilians in Jerusalem, Kevin Williamson provides a good sampling of the way in which people who want objectively to know what is going on generally have to mentally correct the mainstream news:
The man was identified in local news reports as Alexander Levlovich, 64. His death was reported as the police and Palestinian youths clashed [ED: Is it the case that the police and the Palestinian youths “clashed,” or is it the case that the police tried to stop violent crimes from being committed? Do the police “clash” with bank-robbers or muggers?] for a second day at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, amid tensions [Who is tense about this? Are Jews experiencing “tension” over being allowed to move about freely for the purposes of having dinner?] over increased visits by Jews for Rosh Hashana. The two-day holiday began at sundown on Sunday.
In story after story, year after year, mainstream journalists use such writing to assign blame where there isn’t, or may not be, any and to excuse those who are culpable, because doing so reinforces the way they want people to see the world. In a truly objective enterprise, at least one layer of editors of diverse points of view, themselves, would make corrections and ask such questions as those that Williamson suggests. Instead, it’s up to the reader.
It would be a useful writing exercise for students (even just in a general, learning-how-to-live courses) to write events from multiple biases to get a sense of how it works, like so:
Last night, an elderly man collapsed onto the sidewalk downtown. Authorities say the injury marked the twentieth incident during a week that has seen a dramatic increase in tensions across multiple neighborhoods. In this case, the man encountered a youth with a baseball bat. Witnesses familiar with the youth say he has been unable to find work and in frustration has been swinging the bat on the sidewalk at night. After a brief confrontation police officers were able to recover the elderly man’s wallet.