Media Bias in Reporting: Who Do You Trust?

When you think about where you get your news from, do you consider the bias of the news coverage? While it is important to realize that many media agencies openly admit and cater towards a bias, it is the agencies that refuse to admit bias in their reporting that are the most dangerous.Simply being aware of the bias allows for a more intelligent intake of the news received.

Benjamin Haydon- an English writer in the nineteenth century- comments on bias, as found on brainyquote.com:

“Fortunately for serious minds, a bias recognized is a bias sterilized”.

In the last few years there has been a debate between the “Big Three” of news-related television -CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -about who is biased and who is not. The ethical debate has caused much animosity between the companies, but it is unapparent who is being honest.

Even some commentators see the irony in the feud:

The main problem in news coverage is that media bias is difficult to avoid. Every person has an opinion on the topic they are reporting on, especially in political context. All it takes is the wrong tone of voice while interviewing a guest to spark a question of integrity or bias. The only real way to avoid bias is by simply presenting the facts in a clear, focused manner.

It is not only the reporters themselves who lend bias to the story; graphics editors can shape a plot as well. For example, a reporter could be talking about an attack in the Middle East and say, “The attack was allegedly carried out by Al Qaeda, though Al Qaeda has not claimed responsibility.” The graphics editor could put up a statistic frame showing the number of attacks claimed by Al Qaeda in the last year, possibly skewing the fact that Al Qaeda had not claimed to be responsible.

Stephen Colbert frequently satirizes this practice on his Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report”, in the popular segment, “The Word”. As you can see in the following video link, the side graphics can completely change what Colbert is saying, as well as cause a viewer to feel different emotions about what is being said.

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/168491/may-15-2008t/the-word—jail-sweet-jail?xrs=share_copy

The only way to know what bias (or lack thereof) is presented in news reports is to research the reporters, media agencies, and the stories themselves. By getting your news from multiple sources and judging every report with information you know, you can truly get to the bottom of a story. — Ryan Ash

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This entry was posted in Law and ethics, News coverage, Reporting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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