Big Media Operates in a “Culture of Impunity” says Harry Shearer

Sandy Rosenthal at the National Press Club in Washington DC, March 2011. Photo/Joan Judycki

Harry Shearer made a promise and kept it yesterday in his address before the National Press Club in Washington DC.

A media release last week predicted that Shearer, director and producer of The Big Uneasy would argue that the nation’s top editors and producers are “notoriously herd-oriented, cling to first-draft versions of news stories, and are reluctant to adjust news narratives when new facts come to light.”

And Shearer came through on Monday March 14. I travelled to the National Press Club’s office to hear it first hand. You can hear the whole thing on C-Span, but here is Harry’s main points.

Shearer opened with two confessions; he is a “news junkie” and the making of The Big Uneasy was not a career move.

Shearer then went on to point out that in the early stages of news stories, Big Media creates a ‘template’ and later has a tenacity to cling to that original version despite the later appearance of conflicting data from experts. He observed that these templates becomes “granite like lobes in brains of top news editors” and then reporters are encouraged “to find evidence to support what is already on TV.”

“Big Time Media operates in a culture of impunity,” he said, “and cling to the more emotional stories that may be more compelling for their audiences.”

Mr. Shearer used examples from the New Orleans Flood and also the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue.

The full video can be seen here.

Click here for pre-address press release.

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