Introducing Public Editor - MA

Dear Acton Forum readers:

For the past four months, I've been working on a new website dedicated to reforming newspaper journalism. My focus for now is the Boston Globe, New England's largest newspaper. My new website is called Public Editor - MA and it can be reached at PublicEditorMA.com

Journalism is such an important function in a free society, and we need journalists more than ever, especially as the economic model for hiring them has collapsed due to the Internet. Still, having people practice this profession and not relying on amateurs and "talking heads" to create all the news we read is really important.

Unfortunately, the Boston Globe has mostly abandoned traditional and established journalistic principles, starting with the importance of presenting news stories in an unbiased way. Having political (or other) biases creep into news stories is dangerous, because it presents disinformation to readers, or worse, propaganda. If you can't trust news articles to speak the truth, then there are few reliable sources left to citizens.

Over the last several months, while my new website was being built, I read the Boston Globe cover to cover, and I wrote articles about topics of interest to me. I also did a count of editorials that were Liberal or Conservative. Current or former Boston Globe readers will not be surprised that last month, I rated 84% of the partisan editorial columns as Liberal.

But the Boston Globe is a private organization and if the publisher wants to have such unbalanced editorial coverage, that is his right. But with that imbalance on the editorial pages, it is even more important that the news pages of the Boston Globe be free of bias, and certainly the bias should not be skewed to reinforce the vast majority of opinion pieces.

Now here is the important news. The Boston Globe has been failing in its core mission of journalistic excellence. My review has rated over 100 articles for political bias and the Boston Globe has earned an average grade of C+. For a large, professional journalistic operation, the grade should be an A.

Several Globe journalists do an excellent and unbiased job. But many do not. Our site lists all journalists reviewed with a link to the columns we examined and a grade for each one, plus the overall average grade for each journalist.

We have another unique feature which allows for reader participation. Readers are invited to grade the Boston Globe articles for bias. We will tally and report reader grades once we get five or more for any article. (To participate or to write comments, you must first subscribe to Public Editor MA. Subscriptions are currently free.)

Along with the Reporter Ratings page, we have four other main sections: Article Reviews (graded for bias), Editorial Reviews (my reaction to Boston Globe editorials by their editorial board, columnists, or guest editorials), Media Criticism (issues discussed that are larger than individual columns or react to multiple columns), and Investigative Journalism (where I take the extra step of asking the Boston Globe or their journalists to respond, or other investigative pieces.)

Let me conclude by saying that my goal isn't to just criticize the Boston Globe. I believe the mission of the Globe is more important than ever. I just want them to practice journalism the way they should, with unbiased news articles that fairly report stories without taking sides. If and when the Boston Globe starts to earn mostly grades of A and A-, I would be happy to recommend that readers support the Globe's mission and subscribe.

Until then, with your help, we can give valuable feedback to the Globe staff that their practice of journalism leaves much to be desired, and a roadmap on how to fix it.

Allen Nitschelm
Publisher, Public Editor Press
PublicEditorMA.com

Email: AllenN@PublicEditorPress.com.