Malatia decries advocacy journalism in public media

Robservations on the media beat:

  • In an impassioned defense of his decision to drop a controversial program from WBEZ-FM (91.5), the president and CEO of Chicago Public Media insisted that partisanship and ideology have no place in public media. “Advocacy journalism elevates the voice of one citizen — that of the journalist — and frames the discussion with the intent of persuading the community to agree with the journalist’s desired outcome, whether it has real value or not,” wrote Torey Malatia. “To me, ‘advocacy journalism’ is an unhappy meeting of two words, the second word dragged along by the first to get a better table.” Malatia’s essay, posted Friday on American University School of Communication’s, raises serious and important questions about the erosion of public dialogue in the democratic process. Last month WBEZ drew fire for canceling Public Radio International’s weekly talk show hosted by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, citing concerns about fairness and balance. Smiley & West subsequently was picked up by Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM (820) and Midway Broadcasting urban news/talk WVON-AM (1690).

  • It may not be quite the “change of historic proportions” Mike McConnell was hyping on the air Monday at WGN-AM (720), but a new listener call-in number will be unveiled Tuesday for the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station. In place of (312) 591-7200, it’ll be (312) 981-7200. Alert the media.

  • The highlight of Roe Conn’s Newsapalooza 3 at Park West Saturday was the show-stopping performance of Dan and Anthony Ponce. Since the TV news brothers had kept their plans under wraps, their duet of Anchorman (sung to the tune of Billy Joel’s Piano Man) surprised even their fellow performers. Watch the video and see what everyone’s talking about. The third annual media talent show benefitted Clearbrook, a nonprofit agency for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

  • Even as the National Radio Hall of Fame finally got around to inducting Howard Stern Saturday, the Chicago-based shrine to radio’s greatest talent still managed to snub the King of All Media. Stern’s induction never made it onto the national broadcast of the event but was edited into the video afterward (at the 50:29 mark). And Chicago Bears defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, who was chosen to present the honor to Stern in absentia, handled it as one big joke. Contrast that with the respectful induction of Fresh Air host Terry Gross, who also was a no-show Saturday. On his SiriusXM Radio show Monday, Stern blasted the Radio Hall of Fame for its belated recognition and chairman Bruce DuMont for claiming here that he was unaware if Stern would show up. Stern said he made it clear he had no intention of appearing.

  • Things are looking better for Rich Koz. Although he's still hospitalized after suffering a heart attack November 3, Chicago television’s beloved Svengoolie is reported to be progressing well and in good spirits. Friends who’ve visited him say he’s been cheered by the outpouring of good wishes from his legion of fans.

  • Carol Marin will be honored Tuesday as the first recipient of the Voices for Women Award by Northwestern University’s Women’s Health Research Institute. The Sun-Times columnist, NBC 5 political editor and WTTW Chicago Tonight contributor is being cited for her “balanced and in-depth reporting on issues of concern to women” over the past year. "Reporters as thoughtful as Carol Marin create an environment in which women's health research and care are part of the equation, not a political football,” Teresa Woodruff, director of the institute, said in a statement.

  • How much do farmers love Orion Samuelson? At the National Association of Farm Broadcasters convention in Kansas City last week, two copies of his newly published memoir, You Can’t Dream Big Enough, sold at auction for $4,000 and $3,500. Proceeds benefitted the group’s scholarship foundation. Radio Hall of Famer Samuelson is now in his 52nd year as the voice of agribusiness at WGN.



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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)