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Listening Post

Playing with media pundits

A look at how journalists recycle the talking heads that shape the voice of today's news.

Last Modified: 19 Oct 2013 13:06
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News junkies will be familiar with the ubiquitous media pundit, the usual suspects who never seem to leave the studio or who pop up in every other news article.


Greg Packer's not the issue. The issue is the journalists who always call the same places.... What we need ... is diversity of voices.  

Jeff Jarvis, City University of New York

They are the contributors who editors adore, with their on-air bellicosity and punchy sound bites. Their motives for talking to the media range from political activism to plugging their new book or simply just to be seen on television.

It may seem inconsequential but the underlying issue is that while it may be convenient for journalists to have a rent-a-gob just a phone call away, it does mean that the opinions, the perspectives reported, are limited.

One example is Greg Packer from Huntington, New York, who has made it his mission to get into the media as many times as possible. And for the last 18 years he has excelled at it clocking up nearly 1,000 media appearances. He said: "One of my highlights of my media career is when the AP had to ban me because they'd quoted me too many times."

Mihir Sharma, a columnist at Caravan magazine says: "The Packer phenomenon is an example of this peculiar laziness that is common all across the world, even in the best news organisations in which they need to find a voice off the street to say something completely obvious to the reader."

So often, where it is the media's job is to reflect society, the only thing on display is laziness. The Listening Post’s Nic Muirhead reports on ubiquitous media pundits and what they reveal about the news industry.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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