Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations
Crypto-punditry and the media neutrality crisis
This article describes the corrosive practice of “crypto-punditry,” whereby subjective analysis is smuggled into media coverage under the guise of objective reporting. In search of a neutral basis for analyzing events, journalists latch onto public opinion. However, this opinion is rarely expressed directly. Instead, reporters engage in speculative assessment about what public opinion might be. Unfortunately, in an effort to shield themselves from charges of bias, journalists have triggered a counterproductive autoimmune practice which targets precisely those elements of descriptive reporting that give it strength: fairness, accountability, public interest. To make this argument, I first develop a theory of crypto-punditry and outline its effects. I then use content analysis to show that this practice has become far more common in political reporting over the past decade. I conclude by using the 2016 US presidential election as a case study to illustrate its effects.
Charles Olney (2022) Crypto-punditry and the media neutrality crisis, Atlantic Journal of Communication, 30:4, 379-396, DOI: 10.1080/15456870.2021.1936525
Atlantic Journal of Communication
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