My email exchange with Globe political columnist Joan Vennochi has had the desired effect: a lot of people in the MA blogosphere are thinking about the media in a different light than before. Of course, that doesn't mean bloggers haven't been critical - and that's a good thing too. The point of the piece was to get people to think about the issue - and I think it was a resounding success.
Interestingly, some of those thoughts have lead in a direction I didn't expect. A lot of people took umbrage to my comment that good columnists should be unbiased. Peter Porcupine took me to task in the comments at my cross posting on BMG - while Hub Politics also disagreed on that point.
I'll admit, perhaps I was being ambiguous or perhaps didn't make my point well. So, I just want to touch on this subject briefly; it's important to think about what we expect out of a good political columnist. Here's my take:
While any columnist may self identify as liberal, conservative or some other ideology, they'll treat each issue objectively. For example, Eileen McNamara of the Boston Globe would probably identify as "liberal," yet she's written some tough - yet fair - articles critiquing Deval Patrick. Furthermore, a good columnist uses key facts and news to create opinion - such as when Joan Vennochi unmasked the real story behind Killer Coke this past summer.
While ideology may influence what issues a particular columnist cares about - and therefore writes about - that same columnist is going to analyze that issue while keeping his or her objectivity intact, at least as much as possible. When I wrote my blog about the MSM/blogger divide (in a very short amount of time for such a long piece), that's what I meant when I said columnists shouldn't be biased. Columnists, of course, should be opinionated - but they need to justify it with sound reasoning. I hope that clears everything up.