Chris Berg: The Fargo Forum Ought Not Lecture About Journalistic Integrity


Valley News Live – KVLY/KXJB – Fargo/Grand Forks

Last night Valley News Live’s Chris Berg took the Fargo Forum to the woodshed over their attacks on me for covering the NDSU email controversy, and their often all-too-cozy relationship with the state’s political and bureaucratic elite.

I always get a little uncomfortable when people accuse me of journalism. SAB was originally a hobby for me that turned into a career, and what I’ve always done is offer my analysis and opinion on facts either reported by others or established by myself. I don’t really care what you label that. It seems to draw a crowd.

So I really don’t want to get into a food fight with a bunch of crusty newspaper editors who think they’re modern-day Joseph Pulitzers (though that old activist would have been treated as a philistine in their ranks today). The Forum is what it is: A journalistic anachronism still pushing the idea that they’re the gatekeepers to the public’s information even as the average citizen has hundreds of other avenues for information available to them.

But it would be nice if the Forum practiced a little bit of independence.

To me, the first priority for a journalist should be skepticism of those in power, be it in government or the private sector. But the Forum seems to be selectively skeptical. When it comes to a left-wing politician like Senator Heidi Heitkamp, their skepticism seems to wane. When it comes to a right-wing politician like Rep. Kevin Cramer, their skepticism is acute.

When it comes to a Fargo-based institution like North Dakota State University their skepticism seems to be for the critics of that institution, not those running it (and running it poorly, and possibly even corruptly).

I don’t really have a problem with the Fargo Forum’s left-wing bias. It would hardly be becoming for someone like me who infuses a point of view into everything I write to complain when somebody else does it. I do wish they’d be honest about it, and drop the charade of objectivity, but whatever.

What I would like to see is a little independence. I’d like to see the folks running the Forum be a little more concerned with informing the public, and a little less concerned with being friends to certain government VIP’s.

That’s what was so disgusting about the Forum editorial targeting me that Berg highlights in the video above. The put themselves on a journalistic pedestal, but can’t bring themselves to slaughter any of Fargo’s sacred cows.