‘Affirmation Journalism’ Reversed: A Great Sun-Times Article – WP Original
By: Mark Glennon*
If you know what “affirmation journalism” is, you’ll know why today’s article in the Sun-Times about Chicago public salaries is especially praiseworthy.
It’s well known in the press that most readers want stories conforming to their existing views of the world. If they want to learn something new, it’s only because they want some ammo on their side for their next chat around the water cooler or at a cocktail party.
Since most media are struggling today to find a revenue model that works, that means the pressure is on to tell readers what they want to hear. FOX and MSNBC figured that out long ago, and they are the worst offenders, not just spinning the news but distorting it for the close-minded.
The Sun-Times sells primarily to blue collar Chicago — the “bungalow belt” as we call it — and the Sun-Times is in very tough financial shape. This being heavily Democratic Chicago, one rule of affirmation journalism should be clear: Don’t question whether those readers are overpaid.
But that’s just what the Sun-Times did today. Between the salaries they reported and the pensions we’ve been writing about, you’ll see that many Chicago workers are far, far from the middle class their unions claim to be protecting. The article even grabbed the third rail — police and firefighter pay. If it had a comment section, it would be smoking today with union-organized furor.
It’s a great article for other reasons as well. It’s well researched and the reporters had to fight with City Hall to get some of their numbers.
*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opinions expressed are his own.