Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

As fair and balanced as it gets

Roger Simon, suffering late night anxiety about the Pajamas Media project, asks What Is "Fair and Balanced"? Here is the comment I left on his blog regarding that point:

Last year, while riffling through Time or Newsweek, I came upon a book review. Sadly, I cannot remember the book being reviewed, but I do remember the anecdote, taken from the book, that opened the review. The book told of a county fair at the turn of the last century. A very fine bull was the prize for a contest in which people guessed the bull's weight. The one closest to the correct weight would, of course, win. Several hundred people submitted their guesses. None was even close to right, although someone was certainly close enough to walk off with the bull as a prize. What was interesting was what happened afterwards. A mathematician got hold of all of the hundreds of slips of paper submitted, each with a guess as to the bull's weight. He added them up, divided them by the number of guesses, and arrived at an average that was within a mere 2 pounds of the bull's actual weight. The story, of course, illustrates the innate wisdom of crowds (something we bow to every time we convene a jury). In the wild and woolly world that is the blogosphere, I don't think we can set a single standard for fair and balanced. Indeed, I don't think we want to. Once you start setting standards, you also incrementally start imposing viewpoints and begin to stifle ideas. It is the variety of views made available in the blogosphere, amongst the many and varied pajama pundits, that leads to an average that is probably correct. This pure marketplace of ideas is probably the best crucible we can off to burn off the dross and reveal some semblance of truth.