There are two very different reasons why papers like the Times default to the opposing view format for covering a subject. One is that fights make good stories, and the easiest fights to cast and cover are ones with only two sides…. The second reason that journals, and journalists, default to the Opposing View format is that they either don’t know the subject, or have a highly masked position in the matter. Or don’t know that they actually have an opinion on the subject. —Doc Searls
—The Story story (Doc Searls)
Example (according to Doc): The New York Times skews all its stories on file-sharing so that it reflcts Hollywood/Record Compnay opinion that all file sharing is theft, and that protecting the income of these companies is more important than supporting technological innovations that consumers demand. Thus, a reporter whose story quotes an “any file download ought to be criminalized” extremist will counter with a “file sharing should be legal if companies can make money off it” centrist, and leave it at that.
Since I’m not a fan of any particular group or genre of music (I go for weeks without listening to the few CDs I own), I don’t feel like a stakeholder in the “You’ll have to pry my free music from my cold, dead hands” division. But a story quoting a teenager who says “I don’t want to pay for that, all my friends get it for free” doesn’t really do full justice to the “information wants to be free” philosophy that animates Internet culture — and it’s really that philosophy, not the actions of any individual file-sharer, that threatens Old Media.Two generations of music listeners have been taught to appeal to the tastes of a culture it created, to mistrust The Man and seek pleasure. The music is carefully engineered and packaged to deliver a message. I’m amused as I watch the record companies try to impose the ideas of “right” vs “wrong” on a populace trained to roll its eyes at the very mention of such terms as ethics and justice.