It is the criticism which the publication has received for such pointed, so called â€śbiasedâ€ť coverage that Dana chose to address in his lecture. In his talk, â€śThe Myth of Fair and Balanced: A Defense of Biased Reporting,â€ť Dana expounded upon the mania inherent in todayâ€™s news. He particularly focused on the blind obedience with which journalists â€śworship the grail of objectivity.â€ť Some of his literary contemporaries â€śare so afraid of being crucified [by upper management],â€ť he explained, â€śthat they will play twister to hide their bias.â€ť In deliberately disguising their opinion, their message often becomes more convoluted, giving way to a deep mistrust of the media by the people who are consuming it. â€śIf the New York Times would just present itself as pro-war,â€ť insisted Dana, â€śthat would just be much more honest.â€ť
Amidst a sea of this murky, supposedly more objective journalism, Dana argues that poignancy of opinion is much more honest and forthcoming than classic reporting. â€śI want to do stuff thatâ€™s biased.â€ť For â€śbias,â€ť maintains Dana, â€śdoes not mean unbalanced.â€ť If anything. it sets the bar higher for Rolling Stonesâ€™ writers. They have to exercise extreme depth of analysis and reporting in writing their stories. In fact, confided Dana, his all-time favorite stories are those which deliberately framed extremely controversial issues in a manner which was both emotive and unabashedly honest.
Take Eric Schlosserâ€™s Fast Food Nation, for example: What began as a two-part expose on the historical and cultural rise of fast food in the United States has since become a best-selling book â€“ Fast Food Nation â€“ and is in the process of being turned into a feature film. Generating the most mail of any article written by the magazine during the 1990s, Schlosserâ€™s initial piece achieved such feats not by remaining neutral, but rather by taking a bold, radical stance. With a subtitle like â€śThe Dark Side of the All-American Meal,â€ť Schlosser knew the piece he was writing would be very alluring but at the same time potentially very volatile. Hence the exhaustive research. This was modern muckraking at its finest â€“ if Rolling Stone was to feature such a controversial topic, its validity was never to be in question. Indeed, with an estimated 8-10 million readers per issue, Dana asserts that by printing pieces like Schlosserâ€™s, the magazine yields considerable power. â€śWe can become the seed pod for great things.â€ť
Thus, while he acknowledged the importance of giving thought to both sides of an issue, ultimately â€śweâ€™ll write what we believe,â€ť insisted Dana. According to him there is no point in taking a hard stance on an issue which the staff finds morally incongruous â€“ â€śItâ€™s like when Rod Stewart made a disco record,â€ť he quipped, â€śIt just sounds wrong.â€ť
Why should I buy it?