Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Biased Media

My last post provoked some thinking and much of what's been going on for the last few years just sort of piled on for the ride. I do think there is medial bias and I think it goes deeper than is commonly acknowleged. I'm also not sure the topic is broken up into realistic segments.

I think there are different types of media bias that occur for different reasons. The foremost bias right now seems to be political Party bias. In this one we see some of the big issues, corporatization of media, constriction of ownership, governmental interference, governmental favors. Corporate media has problems with the other corporate owned elements and additionally with corporate advertisers. Constricted ownership means a restriction of voices and neglect of local or regional perspective. Government threats are obvious enough, but favors granted are less so, Fox is an excellent example of a favor owed.

There are deeper biases, these are sociological and economic. The background of reporters and editors matters. The ability to clearly see issues in their various facets is to a great extent driven by experience. This is not to say that it is necessary to be, for example, gay to report on a story that has implications for the gay community, but it is important to have a solid background on that community, to know what the implications are actually are. This backgrounding is important, I have read in major stories some of the most profoundly ignorant statements made regarding firearms, the authors and editors had no evident knowledge of a firearm beyond, "it goes bang." The obvious problem is that factually inaccurate information is bruited as "news." The factual inaccuracies are bad enough, but there is additionally the lack of understanding of gun owners, the people - a varied lot - not a simple demographic or statistic. There is a blindness to vast segments of society, these are people who live very different lives than the reporters and editors and there is a divorcement in experience and perspective which leads to important pieces of the news picture being missed or ignored.

When a news story regarding the vandalism of some logging trucks runs, a reporter with little understanding of small business can easily neglect the aspect of the story involving the total ruin of a logger's business which devalues the actual crime committed, it becomes on par with sitting down in a road. A lifetime's work destroyed and hard working honest employees out of work is a real consequence that needs public awareness. This little article can scarcely touch on these aspects, but hopefully spark some thinking and critical news watching.

I doubt that it is possible to avoid all such instances of bias or ignorance, but it certainly is possible to attempt to minimize them. This requires an acknowlegement of ignorance and a willingness to do something about it, I'm afraid there's an arrogance that precludes it.

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