Everyone has a take on rap media. The latest artist to critique the thing that critiques them is Wale, who recently sat down with Adam22 on the No Jumper podcast to break down the flaws he sees in current hip-hop media coverage.
“To me, media was created to give everybody a voice,” Wale said. “I think, as of late, there’s a lot of bias going on and it’s creating confusion. One good point is, there’s no general consensus no more. On the other side, there’s a lot of swaying of public opinion through nefarious means. A lot of ‘Aight, I don’t like this person, I’m not gonna cover them.’ Journalism and bias cannot go hand in hand. You could be a Raiders fan, but you’re posted in Arizona, you gotta cover the Cardinals. There’s no bias involved, that’s media. You gotta report the stats, report what’s going on. Balance in media is something I respect.”
Wale is as right as he isn’t with his assessment. Yes, news reporting should never carry any bias; however, news reporting is not the only type of coverage done by rap media outlets. The mistake that Wale and many others make when critiquing media, is they ask for bias to be absent from all types of content when, in truth, certain types of content cannot exist without bias.
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"I believe a newspaper’s editorial page is inherently biased — that’s the way it is meant to be," Adrian Vore, a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune, wrote in January. "A few years ago I was the letters editor and would write some editorials. Editorial writer Chris Reed gave me a key piece of advice: An opinion piece must say something; it needs to take a position."
As Wale uses “report” and “cover” interchangeably, he falls into the trap of confusing news and hard data with op-eds and all manner of subjective editorial. Of course, news reporting should be free from personal bias, but an opinion editorial that doesn't offer a definitive and conclusive position is just a technical manual. Choosing to not cover an artist in an op-ed, too, can be seen as an ethical editorial position, so long as that decision does not omit covering hard and relevant facts.
The comparison Wale draws to sports, too, is close but not close enough. With sports reporting, there are hardline statistics to be reported, regardless of where your loyalties as a fan lie. Music media boasts stats as well, but the bulk of music opinion writing is not centered on numbers; it's centered on the music itself.
Like all things, rap media has room to grow and improve, but we have to edit how we discuss the pitfalls of music writing before we can get to the heart of these very worthy critiques.
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