An equation, in case you didn’t know it, is the act of declaring two things to be equal or balanced—most often two mathematical propositions on either side of an equal sign. As applied to the media, I suppose “equation” might be used to suggest some kind of balancing or counter-balancing operation to correct for bias, if such a thing were ever to be possible in the media. But as used by The New York Times in “The Media Equation,” the rubric under which are published the musings of their new columnist Ben Smith, late of Buzzfeed, the word is perfectly meaningless. Ben or one of his editors must have decided that “equation” had a suitably scientific and highbrow ring to it and therefore was appropriate to describe the sacred mysteries of the journalistic craft, while also implying the mathematical precision that might be expected of Mr....


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