'Is media bias real?', part two:
February 25, 2001 3:51 PM   Subscribe

'Is media bias real?', part two: Left-leaning media criticism folks FAIR have produced a report detailing some examples of of publishers, advertisers, and government officials killing stories they don't like and placing stories they do. What about the Chinese Wall between the business of news and the actual newsgathering? To quote a CBS news producer on the distinction between entertainment and news, "That line was over a long, long time ago....That line is long gone."
posted by snarkout (18 comments total)
Both Democrats and Republicans have their propaganda outlets; the important thing is the diversity of the media itself. I don't like the popular state newspaper that's published where I live, so I merely avoid it and purchase other papaers that are sold along side it. Life goes on.
posted by xtrmntr at 4:11 PM on February 25, 2001

Nothing new here but you could consider Metafilter as a democratic propaganda outlet. For a news site, they sure are one-sided. It's as if their scared of something? :)
posted by johndoezdallaz at 4:21 PM on February 25, 2001

Ah, johndoezdallas: Scared of something like, maybe, leaving a real e-mail address and URL? Or a real opinion instead of a troll?

'Sides, it'd be a lousy Democratic propaganda outlet that had conservatives like dreama, aaron and capn_stuby posting regularly, not to mention libertarians like thirteen and Greenies (too many to mention) weighing in so regularly. Maybe MeFi's too diverse for its own good. ;/)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread, already in progress ...
posted by allaboutgeorge at 5:04 PM on February 25, 2001

Nader, whm lots of people adore, says corporations run our politics. Nader, the election over, noted that the papes mainly ignored him. Papers (and all media) are bigtime corporations.
Didn't take a Nader to clue some of us in. And a long time ago. So what we do is find lots of sources and compare what is said and what is not said.
To judge quality of a paper, read the letters to the editor for typical readers of that paper. To judge political leaning: note those who write syndicated pieces for that paper.
You want fairness and accuracy? stay with the sports pages and the obits.
Want freedom of expression? Buy and own your ownpaper.
posted by Postroad at 5:19 PM on February 25, 2001

Ditto to Postroad's post--media bias is everywhere.

Check out the current Netscape homepage and tell me if Colin Powell looks stupid in that photo. Perhaps its a coincidence, but there have been times when people are portrayed through poor photos because their views don't coincide with those of the paper's. I recall there was once a MeFi thread on one of Dubya's photos.
posted by hobbes at 5:30 PM on February 25, 2001

I found the notes on advertisers and PR players to be the most queasiness-inducing. "United Airlines and US Airways cut a deal with the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal: We'll give you the story on our upcoming merger, as long as you don't call any 'critics' for comment. According to Howard Kurtz, media reporter for the Washington Post (5/29/00), all three papers agreed to this censorious arrangement, which only fell apart because the Financial Times website broke the merger story early, negating the agreement." Ugh. As Postroad noted, it's not really news to me that corporate interests run the information show, but the specific instances still make me shudder.
posted by redfoxtail at 5:44 PM on February 25, 2001

There is a difference when the source claims to be unbiased, but it's not.

Take Fox News.
posted by john at 6:03 PM on February 25, 2001

I'm curious: anyone here actually work in a newsroom?
posted by lileks at 8:24 PM on February 25, 2001

I was going to post about the situation here in the UK but I don't know how much anyone out there (who isn't actually British) knows.
posted by davidgentle at 8:41 PM on February 25, 2001

I think that people generally note the stories they get mad about and attribute bias accordingly. The thing is, get outside of politics, and you find that it's almost impossible to get reported on and thoroughly approve of the story. My dad's non-profit would have a simple event scheduled and send a press-release to the local paper, and they'd rewrite it, completely screw it up, leave out items of major importance, and possibly even indulge themselves in "reporting" and get a quote from somebody else that liked us and make it sound critical. Them's the breaks.
posted by dhartung at 8:45 PM on February 25, 2001

I'm curious: anyone here actually work in a newsroom?

I've worked in three. National ones, not South Succotash's Channel 63 or somesuch. Liberal bias is real and rampant. Obviously, far-left organizations like FAIR and The Nation don't think so, but they're looking at it from the other side of the fence, so obviously the perspective is different.
posted by aaron at 11:56 PM on February 25, 2001

This may present some insights from a professional journalist teacher:http://www.journalism.ubc.ca/thunderbird/2000-01/february/sainath.html

posted by Postroad at 7:29 AM on February 26, 2001

Liberal bias is real and rampant.

Be that as it may, that's not really what that report was looking at, Aaron. Instead, it was looking at situations in which publishers, advertisers, influential corporations in the community, and government officials exerted an undue influence on the reporting of the news. I don't think Barbara Walters shilling for Campbell's Soup on The View or :CueCat (the product) repeatedly being made the subject of story by new outlets owned by a corporation that invested in :CueCat (the company) is primarily a liberal/conservative issue. The increasing transformation of news in this country from reporting to advertising and (thanks for the link, Postroad) stenography affects everyone who watches the news or reads the morning paper, regardless of his or her political affiliation.
posted by snarkout at 9:13 AM on February 26, 2001

I don't watch propaganda, i mean news, anymore...
posted by muppetboy at 9:50 AM on February 26, 2001

postroad, the a href is your friend, embrace it...
posted by cell divide at 9:53 AM on February 26, 2001

dear Dell divide: I have always made it a point to embrace everthing, esp with a number of drinks and at bars. Even when I broke a bone in my arm I was embraced.
posted by Postroad at 10:15 AM on February 26, 2001

Snarkout, exactly. This report has more to do with the only real problem facing large news reporting institutions: how to keep their integrity intact as purveyors of “objectivity” and “truth” while they sell it piecemeal to the highest bidder. There is a balance these organizations can hold between truth and money, but most news managers and business executives have a vested interest in selling out.

And of course Aaron thinks everyone is liberal. From his perspective, most people are. I've worked for and in a lot of corporate media organizations, and instead of “liberal” propaganda machines, I find most are very timid, prefering to rehash stories for dramatic effect, rather than newsworthiness. The biggest issue for editors is knowing who is advertising at any month, and scheduling stories accordingly.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:22 PM on February 26, 2001

I've worked in a few newsrooms (nat'l and big market TV) and most of the reporters with political affiliation were dems, and most of the management with political affiliation were repubs. Not all that different from just about everywhere else I've worked.

While Aaron may be justified in saying that many of his co-workers were liberals, what actually gets on the air rarely carries a strong bias in any direction-- there are just too many people to please and too many filters to go through.

News is a corporate endevour, and corporatism will always win out over any sort of liberal or conservative bias.
posted by cell divide at 1:49 PM on February 26, 2001

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