Thursday, September 21, 2006

Some thoughts on editorial bias in the publishing trades

Rush Limbaugh was giving the "drive by media" a hard time this morning because the NYT and Wash Post buried their stories about Hugo Chavez calling Bush the devil in his UN speech. Whether it was done out of concern of putting Democrats in the difficult position of having to defend Bush or wanting to minimize any "rally around the president" effect with voters, the libs clearly would've preferred that that this would-be 'Lil Castro not show his true colors.

The trade mags in the publishing industry aren't much better; their editorial bias is probably further to the left than the MSM. And it goes beyond my post yesterday chiding the Book Standard panting over Al Gore's new Penguin army. The biggest problem with the trades is one of omission. They prefer to ignore books advocating traditional values and instead highlight left-wing titles as somehow containing "fresh" and exciting content. When they do get around to reviewing a token conservative book, they utilize a breezy put down before racing onto the next work of lefty literary genius.

To wit: in Publishers Weekly's "Religion Bookline" email today, 2 of the 5 news articles are nothing more than open forums for expressing liberal points of view. (The other 3 articles are business stories and have no apparent point of view.) One of the 2 offenders in question is a softball-laden interview by reporter Donna Freitas with an author who he says the Religious Right has a "dangerous mindset;" the other article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald purports to reveal that global warming is a hot topic (pun intended) in the Christian market. I cite this not to pick on Freitas and MacDonald or even to object to the articles themselves, but instead to show how their editors are opting to sprinkle in left-wing points of view without any sense of balance, something that repeats itself week after week with PW.

This editorial bias with trades like PW, the B.S., and Kirkus has driven publishers in the fast-growing conservative and spiritual markets to turn to the New Media. World Ahead focuses its publicity efforts on bloggers and talk radio; Regnery CEO Marji Ross noted at BEA last spring that they do the same. The trades are forcing publishers of conservative and traditional values books to seek alternative ways of getting the word out, which I'd argue is not to the trades' -- or the industry's -- benefit. How about a little balance, guys?



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