Monday, December 10, 2007

On The Media, Comcast, and journalistic transparency

I love me some transparency in journalism. And so I couldn't stop smiling while I was on the train this afternoon listening to this week's On The Media podcast. If you're not familiar with OTM, it's a weekly public radio show that examines well, the media. That's a pretty broad topic when you consider that almost everything we know about the world we live in we learn about from one media outlet or another, be it a book, newspaper, TV program, movie, or yes, a bog podcast, or public radio program.

On The Media regularly tackles issues of journalistic integrity and conflicts of interest. So this week, co-host Brooke Gladstone did a little appropriate naval-gazing (really, there is such a thing) and interviewed co-host Bob Garfield. Garfield happens to be a critic for Advertising Age in addition to his role at the show. Oh yeah, and he also recently started the blog, Comcast Must Die.

He's not seriously trying to disband Comcast, but as a frustrated customer, Garfield grabbed the nearest soapbox and started complaining. A lot of people have listened. He says the blog has received over 1200 comments in the last two months. The most surprising part of the interview was his assertion that most of the people who have posted complaints on the blog and their customer numbers have actually gotten resolutions.

But back to journalistic integrity for a second here. OTM covers the cable industry sometimes. In fact, they've done stories about Comcast. Garfield says he'll recuse himself from any future coverage of Comcast, but Brooke asked him if that was good enough, and whether people should trust the show. Honestly, if you hold the program to the same standards that they often hold other interview subjects to, the answer would probably be no. But there's something both cute and heartening about the fact that the producers are drawing attention to a potential conflict of interest in this way. I could describe it til the cows come home, but you're probably best off just listening to the exchange yourself:

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