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Letters to the Editor: Is ‘advocacy journalism’ undermining public trust in the media?

Fox News' Tucker Carlson in his studio
Tucker Carlson’s opinion program on Fox News is one of the network’s most successful programs.
(Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times)

To the editor: Kudos to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for taking a critical look at the mainstream media’s political journalism.

Many years ago when I decided to get my degree in journalism, I was intrigued by the idea of “objectivity” and how the “what, where, when, why and how” told the story in a factual, accurate and unbiased way.

Around the same time, sneaking up on us journalism students was the notion that “advocacy journalism” was a better way to deliver the news. The idea was to put things in context, provide some idea of what a story “meant” and let readers have the journalist’s perspective on what was occurring.

Abdul-Jabbar hit it as cleanly as a sky-hook. Too many of today’s journalists are letting their opinions sneak into their coverage, and some aren’t even being sneaky about it.

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Norm Schneider, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Abdul-Jabbar is one of basketball’s all-time greats and is now a respected national thinker. He opines that “news” articles should report only the facts.

He does not discuss another related news-reporting trend. Until recently, most news coverage was like this: “Trump said this, and Nancy Pelosi said that,” leaving the reader to guess what was true.

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Lately, most great newspapers have been calling non-fact-based claims “unfounded” or “false.” I believe that, when warranted, it is a reporter’s responsibility to do this.

I doubt that Abdul-Jabbar would disagree.

Alan Golden, Calabasas

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To the editor: Abdul-Jabbar is correct about America’s news media going off track.

I cannot watch Fox News. Their personalities’ ultra-conservative opinions and mendacity cause my stress levels to spike. The anchors on CNN and MSNBC have become a chorus of regurgitated news and analysis, capturing the consensus of liberal opinion on many topics.

I’ll continue to read the news and come to my own conclusions.

Carla Bollinger, Newbury Park

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To the editor: Abdul-Jabbar is right on target when he describes Fox News as among the most biased and least accurate of popular news sources. The obscene lack of principle by some of their hosts and their propensity for peddling fabrications and conspiracy theories have done great damage to the trust that Americans have placed in the news media.

But we must remember the many reporters who, in spite of four years of constant abuse and vilification by the White House, have endeavored to present facts honestly and diligently.

Their valuable service allowed voters to repudiate the current administration. To those news media professionals, I say thank you.

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Ted Carmely, Sherman Oaks

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To the editor: I agree with Abdul-Jabbar and admire him for his insight. There is one news source he did not mention: PBS.

The PBS NewsHour presents its journalism objectively. Even better, its reporters strive — and almost always succeed — in interviewing knowledgeable people with different, usually opposing, points of view on issues.

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If people would simply aim that TV remote at a PBS station, they could have their eyes opened, minds expanded and biases diminished.

Barbara Unsworth, Chino Hills


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