Wednesday, March 29, 2006

VaBook Festival I

Well, I needn't have obsessed about that closeup (or maybe someone at CSPAN read the post below), as BookTV didn't show up to tape my "Journalism Then & Now" panel last Saturday--though they interviewed panelist Victor Navasky earlier in the day. Unfortunately, Margo Jefferson of the NYT was ill and couldn't attend, but Digby Diehl, Stephen Farnsworth and Navasky held down the fort with panache and passion.

Farnsworth observed that TV news these days focuses more on car chases, celebrities and the weather than on important events and issues. And he's obviously right, as there were maybe 50 in the audience, whereas an earlier panel on weather in the same venue had a crowd of 200+ spilling out the doors. What Mark Twain noted is still true, though: "Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it."

During the Q&A session, someone asked about the "liberal bias" of public television. Farnsworth quickly flipped through his book, THE MEDIATED PRESIDENCY, and cited statistics showing that coverage on "The News Hour" was no more positive for Clinton than Bush. (I just love a man--or woman--with facts at his fingertips!) In essence, the media aren't any more "liberal" now; it's public perception that has changed. And as we know, perception almost always trumps reality.

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