Russ Baker’s The Squeeze Research Report
As citizens in a democracy we have a responsibility to be informed about the world around us so that we may effectively contribute to the democratic process. Furthermore, we have a responsibility to analyze the information presented to us for bias and inaccuracies in order to stay better informed. In his article The Squeeze in the September/October 1997 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, Russ Baker details recent developments in the ongoing conflict between advertisers, publishers, and editors. The piece suggests that advertisers, led by the advertising juggernaut Chrysler, seek to gain unnecessary control over the content of the publications they advertise in. Because this piece deals with advertising bias and based on Baker’s distinguished career as an investigative journalist and his non-profit blog, it is evident that the piece is biased in that in seeks to promote unbiased reporting as a necessary value of journalism.
Baker’s career as a hugely successful investigative journalist suggests a bias towards the principles of journalism, namely unbiased reporting and a wall between advertising and editorial. Baker is a freelance journalist who received a Masters Degree in Journalism from Columbia has written for various US publications such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Vanity Fair, among others. Furthermore he his work appeared in numerous international publications in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Therefore it is evident that he is an experienced journalist and thoroughly understands the principles of journalism. Because the article is discussing how advertising is affecting the editing of magazines and newspapers, it is reasonable to believe that Baker has some bias toward advocating for the content of publications to be unaffected by advertisers.
Furthermore, Baker founded the blog WhoWhatWhy.com, a non-profit news publication, which suggest a bias towards non-profit journalism that is relevant in his piece regarding advertising’s affect on the content of publications. Baker said that he started the blog because he was, “tired of the cynicism, self-interest, and cowardice that I witnessed in the news media.” The blog focuses on non-biased reporting of the truth, and in an effort to remain non-biased, is a non-profit publication with no advertisers. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that Baker is inclined to advocate for publications being independent from advertisers, and thus is a biased source on the topic of the wall between publishing and editorial.
It is hard to overlook Baker’s bias as an advocate for non-biased, advertising independent news publications, or the fact that this bias is relevant to the piece in question. However, it seems that a bias towards being non-biased, is not a bad bias to have. I think that despite Baker’s biases, he is a credible source and this report can be trust on face value.
Baker, R. (2013, 09 23). Russbaker.com. Retrieved from http://russbaker.com
Engel, M. (2013, 09 23). Who what why. Retrieved from http://whowhatwhy.com
Russ, B. (2013, March 21). Russ baker on huffpost. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russ-baker/