< Back to front page Text size +

"The JournoList"

Posted by Christopher Shea  March 20, 2009 01:57 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

This week, Politico wrote about a semi-secretive email group to which numerous left-leaning bloggers, progressive academics, and mainstream journalists belong. Conversations on the listserv, called JournoList, are deemed off-the-record, and the site is described as a place where people can try out arguments or solicit expert opinion before going "live" on their blogs or other media outlets.

Reihan Salam, a young conservative (who was denied "membership" precisely because he's on the right), looks at the list through a sociological lens: It's no left-wing conspiracy, he argues, as some right-wingers have suggested, and he sees no evidence that it works as an enforcer of any sort of party line.

Still, it suggests that there's something different in the interaction between the left and mainstream journalism than between the conservative movement and mainstream news outlets. Consider this anecdote from Salam:

A few years ago, I was at a party and my friend, then a producer for a television news program, was berated, mildly, by a friendly acquaintance for the fact that the producer's show rarely if ever had "outspoken progressives" on the program. Rather, the show would have journalists from Time and other mainstream outlets to represent a left-of-center position. In his view, this was a travesty: though these reporters might hold liberal views, they were not truly outspoken progressives, as they felt constrained by mainstream media conventions. He was particularly peeved because he had recently paid for media training. As it happens, the outspoken progressive was seriously considered for an appearance on the weekly program, but he hadn't made his way on the show just yet. That said, his conviction concerning the weaknesses of the media mainstream made a deep impression, and I wondered at the time if he might be right. Less than a month later, the outspoken progressive was hired by one of the country's major metropolitan dailies, where he is a star reporter.

Why is it that people so often segue from jobs at the American Prospect or the New Republic to mainstream newspapers, while writers for the National Review or the Weekly Standard seldom make such a leap? The answer is not so simple as bias, I don't think, but the question remains. Salam's post flirts with some answers -- involving general sensibility, or mindset -- without settling on any firm one.

(Via Ross Douthat)

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


Browse this blog

by category