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Media bias

Media Media bias

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#1 Rov Judicata

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 03:29 AM

All right, I've heard charges of media bias in this forum on all sides; conservative, liberal, corporate, class-based, etc.

But if you want to persuade others, you have to provide evidence. This is your forum to do that.

Here are the rules that I just made up. If you think they're inadequate, say so. We can come up with more or make changes:

1) Cite an example of the bias. Examples require links to the primary sources. You can include a link to the secondary source which deals with the alleged bias, but you don't have to. If something *wasn't* reported, link to another story that did report the issue. Further, in the case of an omission, explain why it's relevant enough that it should have been reported.
2) It must be relatively recent; no older than 5 years.
3) If the institution issued a correction, then it's out of bounds. For instance, the Guardian quoting Wolfowitz out of context doesn't count because they took measures to correct their gaffe.
4) Mainstream media only please; network news, cable news, widely circulated newspapers.
5) Explain why it's a distortion or omission, and which side it favours.
6) Others will look into your example and decide for themselves if its valid.
7) Try not to 'flood the zone'. People are far more likely to respond to one or two examples (either to agree or attempt to refute) than to ten.
8) Editorial pages don't count. It's not bias unless it affects hard news coverage. IMO, anyway...

Pretty simple, no? If it gets the participation I'm hoping for, this thread may be hard to follow... but I think it's worthwhile.

Have at you!
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#2 Ogami

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 04:15 AM

Both sides agree the mainstream news media is biased.

Wow, that was easy. And I didn't even have to say which way it was biased. ;)

-Ogami

#3 Drew

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 04:22 AM

Quote

If the institution issued a correction, then it's out of bounds. For instance, the Guardian quoting Wolfowitz out of context doesn't count because they took measures to correct their gaffe.

Actually, I think such things SHOULD count, because regardless of whether the correction is issued or not, the original version gets picked up by other media outlets where corrections aren't necessarily forthcoming. The Guardian's misquote of Wolfowitz was picked up and ran in a bunch of places that still haven't corrected themselves. And another example: during the war, the BBC reported that U.S. Troops hadn't taken the Baghdad Int'l Airport, though the armed forces news service was reporting that they had. Guess which version NPR decided to believe?

Quote

Editorial pages don't count. It's not bias unless it affects hard news coverage. IMO, anyway...

So how do we handle it when so-called "hard news" is really nothing but editorializing?  ;)

Edited by Drew, 14 June 2003 - 04:23 AM.

"Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested."

#4 QueenTiye

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 05:41 AM

While I understand the Editorial page's exclusion from this survey, it would be interesting to set up a second survey to review the number of newspaper editorials (not Op-Eds, the one that the actual editor of the media outlet approves in the name of the outlet) that are either pro-liberal or pro-conservative thinking.  

QT

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#5 Delvo

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 05:55 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Jun 13 2003, 10:33 AM, said:

3) If the institution issued a correction, then it's out of bounds.
The trouble there is that corrections come only AFTER the original biased material was exposed by outsiders, and are pretty well buried where nobody can see them, thus maintaining the original material as what they're really put out for people to see.

Quote

7) Try not to 'flood the zone'. People are far more likely to respond to one or two examples (either to agree or attempt to refute) than to ten.
The trouble there is that it really is about the numbers of articles/segments on either side, so the bias that's found many times more often is the predominant one even though the other does exist in its few isolated pockets. And yet, there are so many articles and segments overall that a search could probably still turn up a whole bunch of exceptions to the rule. I have learned never to underestimate the ability of the vehemently opinionated, and especially the generally angry or hateful, to collect impressive collections of what are nevertheless exceptions to the rule, and I don't have their level of motivation to go out and collect zillions of counter-articles. And yet, neither side can really prove a case for media bias at all without simply showing massive numbers...

Edited by Delvo, 14 June 2003 - 05:57 AM.


#6 Rov Judicata

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 05:57 AM

Ogami-- Ha! I expected more of a commitment to your position out of you, somehow. ;).

Quote

Actually, I think such things SHOULD count, because regardless of whether the correction is issued or not, the original version gets picked up by other media outlets where corrections aren't necessarily forthcoming. The Guardian's misquote of Wolfowitz was picked up and ran in a bunch of places that still haven't corrected themselves.

That's true, and those sources which haven't made the correction are fair game, although that's probably more simple incompetence than bias.

Quote

And another example: during the war, the BBC reported that U.S. Troops hadn't taken the Baghdad Int'l Airport, though the armed forces news service was reporting that they had. Guess which version NPR decided to believe?

Again, primary sources are good.  I'd like to hear what exactly they said; given the chaos of war, the amount of news pouring out was insane. In what context did NPR 'decide to believe' it? Did they report it as fact, or that there was some dispute, or what?

Quote

So how do we handle it when so-called "hard news" is really nothing but editorializing? ;)

Fair game. If it's not on the oped pages, it's open to full on criticism. ;).

QT-- That's true, that would be a great topic for a separate thread. :).
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#7 Rov Judicata

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 06:00 AM

Quote

The trouble there is that corrections come only AFTER the original biased material was exposed by outsiders, and are pretty well buried where nobody can see them, thus maintaining the original material as what they're really put out for people to see.

The Guardian was pretty good about issuing their correction, to use my example. However, I tend to be the trusting sort in that those kind of things that are corrected are simply mistakes. Call me naive. :).

Quote

The trouble there is that it really is about the numbers of articles/segments on either side, so the bias that's found many times more often is the predominant one even though the other does exist in its few isolated pockets. And yet, there are so many articles and segments overall that a search could probably still turn up a whole bunch of exceptions to the rule. I have learned never to underestimate the ability of the vehemently opinionated, and especially the generally angry or hateful, to collect impressive collections of what are nevertheless exceptions to the rule, and I don't have their level of motivation to go out and collect zillions of counter-articles. And yet, neither side can really prove a case for media bias at all without simply showing massive numbers...

That's true too. This will be far from an exhaustive debate, but I thought it would be interesting. :).
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#8 Kimmer

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 09:12 AM

Javert Rovinski, on Jun 13 2003, 09:33 AM, said:

8) Editorial pages don't count. It's not bias unless it affects hard news coverage. IMO, anyway...
I'd disagree with you most vehemently.

In my "Slice of Life Town", the newspaper editor has changed 3 times since I've been here. The first and third were/are pro-inmate and very anti-correctional officer. The middle one was pro-correctional officer, but not anti-inmate.

The result? When I first moved here, there were stores I was not welcome in simply because my husband was a correctional officer!!!!!!!!!! We'd find our cars with flat tires at certain stores, windshields "egged", etc.

Now, the folks doing this stuff were not inmates families (I know because I got angry and started asking) ... but they read the local paper, especially the editorial page and believed everything the editor said. Now that we have another editor like the first - we are back to not being welcome in many places.

When the second editor was around, life was nice. All of us were welcome.

So you will never convince me that editorial pages don't count in media bias!  :angry:

--kimmer

#9 Rov Judicata

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Posted 14 June 2003 - 09:18 AM

{{{{{{{{{ kimmer }}}}}}}}}}}}}}]

Kimmer-- I think we have a miscommunication.

Editorial pages *are* biased. That's what they do. There's no such thing as an objective editorial.

But the subject of this thread is whether the 'hard news' is affected. Everybody knows that editorials are slanted; that's the point. It's the alleged insidious bias of what seems to be objective news coverage that interests me.
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#10 AnneZo

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Posted 18 June 2003 - 08:41 AM

Drew, on Jun 13 2003, 05:23 PM, said:

Actually, I think such things SHOULD count, because regardless of whether the correction is issued or not, the original version gets picked up by other media outlets where corrections aren't necessarily forthcoming. The Guardian's misquote of Wolfowitz was picked up and ran in a bunch of places that still haven't corrected themselves.
I agree. For one thing, it's rare for an outlet to run such a prominent correction. The WSJ OpinionJournal, for instance, might print a "letter to the editor" they've received pointing out their error, but they rarely run a correction or retraction as such.

Also, as Drew poihnts out, the original article has created an impression and a lot of people won't see the correction. I think it's quite valid to think that a newspaper, seeing a "hot" story that suits their editorial position would run with that story without verifying it properly.  (That didn't used to be the case, but, sadly, it is today.)

Quote

So how do we handle it when so-called "hard news" is really nothing but editorializing?  ;) 

Which it frequently is these days. :)

Besides, I think the editorial pages are significant in promoting bias.  Editorial pages are one of the most widely read sections of the national papers and more people, certainly, can name a columnist or two than can name a "star" reporter of "hard news."  In theory :) the editorial pages "interpret" and "comment" on the news in a way you shouldn't be seeing on the "hard news" pages and people like that kind of context. That's why newspapers have editorial pages. They're popular.

Caveat:  I've heard it said that a newspaper's "bias" can be told by its editorial pages, but that's not always true, so I think if a columnist is being used to "prove bias", then a hard news article at least suggesting that same bias, from that same newspaper, should be included to really prove a point.

#11 Delvo

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Posted 18 June 2003 - 01:13 PM

I think the best way to spot a newspaper's bias is actually not in what they report and how they reported it, but in what they choose NOT to report. And that's an ESPECIALLY hard thing to find examples of, since it's by definition a LACK of examples of something...

#12 AnneZo

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Posted 19 June 2003 - 06:51 AM

^ That's amazingly, frustratingly true.  

You could spend six hours a day trying to compare different news sites against each other, international sites, Reuters, and UPI in an attempt to figure out everything that's happening.



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