Don't Mindlessly Blame Journalism When You're Losing

12/02/2010 10:55 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Jason Salzman Former media critic at the Rocky Mountain News; Blogger,

As a long-time media critic and activist, I've noticed that the side that's losing in a political campaign almost always thinks the media is being unfair.

And the winning side usually says the media coverage of their issue or race has been fair and accurate.

You see this in real time during a political campaign. When things are going smoothly and the polls are up, the media is good. The polls go down, and the media's a problem.

Most recently, you see this in the form of Scott McInnis blaming The Denver Post for his loss in the Colorado gubernatorial race.

McInnis had plenty of good media days during his career.

That's not so true for many marginalized political activists. If you're a perpetual loser, and your solutions to America's problems are off the table, like those of most people on the far left and far right of the political spectrum, you probably think the media is constantly unfair.

And sure enough, the harshest and most sweeping condemnations of professional journalism come from the extreme left and right of the political spectrum.

In Colorado, get an earful of this by tuning to Mike Rosen on KOA or, for the anti-media leftist perspective, look on the comment boards of some of my previous HuffPost blog posts or elsewhere on HuffPost or ColoradoPols.

In any case, there's plenty of unsubstantiated media bashing from the left and right these days and every day.

Don't get me wrong. I think media criticism is healthy and good, as long as it's specific. What we don't need from the left or right are sweeping condemnations of, say, The Denver Post, without examples to back it up.

Broad statements that "the media" is lazy or biased or out of touch serve to fire up cynicism about journalism, but they don't accomplish much. And they are not supportable.

Those of you who want to leave your user name at the door and criticize the media can do so at a forum next week (as long as you're nice).

Five Colorado journalists will answer your questions during a panel discussion Wed., Dec. 8, at 2 p.m. , on the subject of Colorado Journalism and the 2010 Election.

The panelists are: Charles Ashby, Reporter, Grand Junction Sentinel; Curtis Hubbard, Political Editor, The Denver Post; Adam Schrager, Political Reporter, 9News, Producer/Host YOUR SHOW; Eli Stokols, Political Reporter, KDVR Fox 31 and KWGN TV; and Kristen Wyatt, Reporter, Associated Press.

The description of the panel is:

"With the Rocky Mountain News gone and journalism in the midst of major changes, did Denver media outlets provide citizens with the information needed to make informed decisions during the 2010 election? What were the journalistic triumphs and lapses during the election cycle?"

The event, co-sponsored by University of Colorado Denver's School of Public Affairs and Rocky Mountain Media Watch (which I founded), will take place Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. at Lawrence Street Center, 1380 Lawrence Street, in the Terrace Room on the second floor. The event is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required.

If you can't make the it, but you have a question, please email it to me (, and I'll consider asking it.

The question is, will the extreme media bashers on the left and right bother to listen to what their objects of their criticism have to say at this forum -- or anywhere, for that matter?

Or, because they are losing their battle in America, will they shut off the debate and continue to mindlessly blame journalism?