Sunday, March 18, 2007

Media Bias, Business as Usual

Here's a trick that the Democrats really need to master in order to stay in power. They must learn to use the media instead of being used by them. They need to recognize that the media is no better or worse than a ditch digger. They need to realise that the media has an overinflated opinion of itself as a whole. I'm not advocating cover ups at all. I would like to see the media restored to it's rightful place of reporting the news in an unbiased manner.

Back in 1979 I was enrolled in Journalism 1 as a Sophomore in high school. The thing I remember the most was that we were required to write in what our teacher called "the neutral voice". Neutral meant that after reading the piece she had no clue what our opinion on the issue was. So of course we were required to write about abortion. And of course we were required to write about school policies. Finally, we had to write a biography of President Carter. She would red pen all the stuff that pointed to an opinion. Then she'd subtract that from the total column inches assigned. Normally we had to provide a minimum of thirty and a maximum of thirty-five inches. If the pen took you below that minimum, you failed.

Speaking of failure, the modern professional media would not survive that class. The current mantra is that "If it bleeds, it leads". The goal is to sell papers, airtime, bandwidth, google ads, or something. So while there are competing arguments about whether the media bias is liberal or conservative, there cannot be any doubt that the media leans far more to the sensational than the mundane.

Take the current Scandal Dejure. Some US Attorneys were fired. Wow. And that affects Mr. or Mrs. McUSA how? Let's be realistic for a moment. They serve at the pleasure of the President. When the questioning began, he should have said "because I can". Of course he didn't. Now, between the media pontificating, and the Congressional sound-bytes, who is profiting? The outlets. Ratings are up, sales are up, the almighty dollar is fat, dumb, and happy for the nonce.

Proof that sensationalist bias rules is easy to find. Look at what "war correspondent" Geraldo Rivera did. He knelt down and started to draw pictures in the sand. The Army rightfully ejected him. The entire event was sensationalized to the point that Geraldo got a plum job out of it. Lucky for him it wasn't my unit. The on-camera beating would have really been sensational.

Note to Pols. Save the speeches for the floor. Note to the media. Stick to the facts and leave the editorializing to the oped pages.

Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist
"In a world of blogs, instant messaging and multiplying media choices, is media bias a real problem for our society or just a political argument?"
Sensationalism in the News: The disinformation superhighway
FAIR Archives: Profit-driven news organizations are under great pressure to boost ratings by sensationalizing the news

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