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June 25th 2008

Media Bias

I

used to be a reporter, and I was biased.

At the time, I thought my writing was professional and objective and I would have argued my case vociferously, but looking back I see I exhibited bias in three primary ways:

  • My story selection – If the story was about something I didn’t agree with, the chances that I’d ever get around to writing it was about nil, unless my editor’s will was stronger than mine. But usually if I didn’t like a story, my editors didn’t like it much either.
  • My story organization – I always told both sides, but if the story was about something I cared about personally, I often ended up telling one side a bit better.
  • My quote selection – If I had a really powerful quote from someone I didn’t really agree with, I might decide to paraphrase it rather than use it verbatim. Powerful quotes from folks I agreed with usually found their way to the top of the story.

Journalism is not a profession that attracts impassionate, uninvolved people, so most journalists are a lot like I was: biased, but not willing to admit as much.

Over time, I’ve come to believe that objectivity – telling both sides of the story – is a lousy standard for a journalist. I tell my staff that clients of Laer Pearce & Associates deserve better, so we work to hold the media to fairness. Fairness means both sides in a story get a fair shake, equal footing, common respect. Reporters understand the difference between objectivity and fairness, and the good ones work to adapt the new standards.

Media bias is a common subject at Cheat-Seeking Missiles – just look up “Media Bias” in the categories section of the home page.

Comments? You can always reach me at email2laer[@]yahoo[dot]com.

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  1. Newzworth

    Thank you for your honesty, Laer.
    As this election has exposed, the media can no longer be trusted at their word. God forbid a re-enactment of the “Fairness Doctrine”. It’s not that the voices on the radio are not biased, but because without both extremes, its difficult to discern truth, bias, fiction, and opinion without something to weigh against.  I look forward to frequenting your blog more often.
    ~Newzworth

  2. James McFarland

    Every human has at least some degree of bias on many different issues.  Probably the more intelligent and especially the more passionite people have more and stronger biases than those who are neither intelligent or passionite.  It is probably also true that reporters are generally both intelligent and passionite, and if so it stands to reason that reporters are definitely biased; to be otherwise would take them out of the realm of being human.
     
    I realize that “The View” is not a news program, but even so the women on it feel as though they have every right to rant on and on concerning their favorite Presidental candidate.  I happened on such a rant on “You-Tube” earlier, and I was discussed to see the way four women ganged up on the fifth panelist simply because they are all liberal and she is a conservative.  I can’t for the life of me understand how or why the consevative panelist stays on the show considering the fact that they can’t let even finish a sentence, let alone actually having the opportunity to have a whole couple of minutes to present her position.
     
    Keep up the good work,  Jim

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With Obama winning the presidency by seven percent, we can't blame the media. Their laudatory coverage and refusal to extensively probe into Obama's background and [lack of] experience was at best responsible for five percent of his vote, the pundits tell us. Here is a compilation of over 100 significant instances of pro-Obama/anti-McCain bias during the 2008 campaign.

For all 'Media Bias 2008' – Click Here

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