Aaron’s mad about PA Independent’s funding sources, but I don’t really care about this that much. There’s no problem with an ideological group funding a news outlet. The problem lies with their stuff getting syndicated in other papers without any partisan label. That’s no good, but on the whole I have to say their budget and issue reporting is generally better than, say, the Associated Press.
AP routinely mucks up the coverage of political events, but for a different reason – they’re committed to a “balanced” he-said-she-said model of journalism that often gives equal weight to unequally-true statements by political actors. My view is that is even worse than what PA Independent (or Talking Points Memo, or Streetsblog, etc) do. At least when you know a publication’s point of view, you can appropriately weight their claims and be on the lookout for partisanship-by-omission.
So their stuff should be labeled with their right-leaning affiliation in the papers where it’s syndicated, but honestly anybody with some critical thinking skills should be able to spot their bias. It’s not even really a conservative bias, so much as a fiscal tightwad slant. And the bias is expressed as an omission of certain viewpoints, or just in their editorial choices about what issues matter. But even so, they routinely quote liberal advocates and Democratic lawmakers in their articles, even when they have a perceptible slant on an issue.
As someone who writes about politics from a policy-focused perspective, I appreciate reading policy-focused journalism even if it’s from a perspective I disagree with. When so much of the right-wing discourse is just flat-out stupid reactionary garbage, it’s nice to engage with people who are actually thinking about the issues on the other side.