A Brand New Bias?

Poniewozik.

Imagine yourself as a third-grader trying to learn to write that name in cursive.

I actually have no idea if James Poniewozik had to suffer through elementary-school writing lessons, but someone taught him.  Taught him well.

In the two-ish years that I have subscribed to Time Magazine, his column is the one I have read most consistently and his ideas and viewpoints are the ones that teach me the most.  Plus, his Twitter profile picture shows him with a gigantic mug of coffee.  How can that not be great?

Poniewozik writes TIME’s “Tuned In” column.  Every week he contributes an essay to the magazine that highlights current events and/or issues in media and journalism.  Occasionally, he’ll write a bigger feature or the cover story.

His most recent column for TIME was especially intriguing.  In the column (from the November 16, 2009), he discussed how media bias is not limited to left-wing and right-wing; it’s not just Fox News and MSNBC that are perceived to lean in one direction or another.

It’s also the center.  Poniewozik’s column, “Moderation in Excess,” was all about moderate bias.  Moderate bias.  Oxymoron?  He doesn’t think so.

He describes this bias as being evident “whenever an organization decides that ‘balance’ requires equal weight for an opposing position, however specious.”

“There isn’t one, and there never was,” he says of the “neutral center.”

Honestly, I’m still tossing around my own ideas of what this means, but I think he raises a very interesting point.  Does someone considered to be politically moderate just objectively assess both the far-left and far-right positions?  Sure, but you can’t vote in the middle.  There has to be some middle ground to stand on.  The devil’s advocate always has an opinion.

Poniewozik brings it back to the journalists, talking about how journalists won’t be able to cover from that “neutral center.”  As a journalism student, that’s what I’ve always understood: be unbiased.  If I understand his position correctly, he sees a difference between moderate bias and fair treatment of positions.  But regardless, he gave me a lot to think about.  His columns usually do.

As if his interesting journalism propositions weren’t enough, he tweets, as all great journalists do (general statement, but you get the idea).

A few recent gems from @poniewozik:

Young woman on the N train deeply absorbed in a volume of Conrad. Lauren Conrad.

Drafted my Mad Men review; going to sleep on it, then polish and probably post early in the morning. Yay, four hours of sleep!

Never seen Mad Men, but I love that four hours of sleep part.

Read James Poniewozik’s  “Tuned In” blog here and follow him on Twitter here.

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