University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Identifying Biased Media
Many now believe that media is biased; but the context of what bias is may vary depending on the preferences of the readers. Bias affects news reporting in a variety of ways. It may be reflected on the preferences of the editor/owner of the publication or broadcast institution, maximizing profits, and/or politics or entertainment (Baron 1).
Media institutions acquire income from advertisements and this practice affects how the media chooses what kind of news it should report. Media sensationalism is also an end result as people are attracted to read news that are sensationalized, this in turn increases readership and consequently, increase in profit from advertisements.
The issue whether media can still produce and present objective news is still subject to debate. It may be true that some institutions can present objective and unbiased news, but many forms of media are now inclined to side with a group because of preferences or to maximize profit.
In politics, horse-race journalism, which focuses on various election data instead of emphasizing the candidates’ plan of action, is being given too much attention. This results in news items that are all about the election proceedings. During these times, media institutions all report election-related news and forget about other similarly or more important issues that need to be reported.
The findings of some researchers suggest that the media (1) are neither objective nor honest, (2) employ framing devices, (3) deliberately manipulate news, (4) are controlled and influenced by government and business interest, (5) may choose unreliable sources, (6) accept the “faulty premise” that the government has good intentions, (7) through the use of the word “we” implies acknowledgment of government policies, (8) do not use historical context, (9) fail to follow up on the stories and (10) does not encourage the maintenance of a critical perspective for the readers (Nelson).
Bias results in skepticism on the side of the readers which results in a reduction in the demand for news. However, biases are being tolerated when it means that a journalist can be hired for a lower salary (Baron 23). Journalists may have incentives to write biased news stories, but it can be cushioned by an attitude of professionalism and a media institution that does not tolerate bias.
On the other hand, investigative journalism has been known as the most controversial form of journalism and over time, it has changed and adapted to the current setting (Hawks) but this kind of reporting involves a lot of risk and violation of human rights.
Sometimes, investigative journalists go beyond the borders and invade the privacy of others just to get the report that they need. Exposure is the theme of the current investigative reporting process as it creates excitement and uproar and draws a lot of attention from the public. It is also believed that scandals draw more attention from the public which would result in more generated profit for the media institution.
Journalists follow their targets as if they are bounty hunters armed with their cameras to catch any footage of misdeed. Some journalists also resort to wiretapping of phone lines and other means to gain access to personal and classified documents. This methodology of investigation, although has good intentions, is unethical in a sense that it invades the private life of people. In some instances, due to this practice, journalists receive threats when they are investigating anomalous people or dealings.
The media is being invaded by personal preferences and is gravely affected by commercialization. Perhaps the media is only considering its survival because without income, the media cannot operate.
Baron, David. Persistent Media Bias. August 2004 <www.wallis.rochester.edu Media Bias>
Baybars-Hawks, Banu, The Impact of Investigative Journalism on Public Opinion and Policymaking.
Nelson, Richard Alan. Tracking Propaganda to the Source: Tools for Analyzing Media Bias. 2003. <http://lass.calumet.purdue.edu/cca/gmj/fa03/gmj-fa03-nelson.htm>