Home > BLOG 2 > Everyone hates the media (bias)

Everyone hates the media (bias)

It seems that every time I get into a political discussion, people are always complaining about the media being biased one way or another, whining endlessly about the “liberal media” or the “radical right wing coverage.” The way I see it, this is (many times) used as an excuse to fuel individuals’ political arguments without having to use facts to back them up. Yes, media bias exists; when journalists write or report on stories, their individual styles and feelings will inevitably come through in some way or another. But being a journalism major and having taken various classes on news writing and the principles of journalistic writing, I believe that journalists try to report without bias. In fact, AP style and the aim of journalism in general is structured around avoiding bias in writing. Despite all this, however; bias WILL come through in written and televised news, and it is up to the readers/viewers of that news to discern the facts and develop their own opinions based on the information they are given.

Recently, UCLA conducted a study with the goal of being “the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.” The article, “Media Bias is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist”, recounts the study, in which researchers scoured media coverage from the past 10 years to quantify various references to liberal and conservative sources, among other things. The study concluded that there is definitive bias in different media outlets.

Back in October of 2004, Jon Stewart appeared in what has since become a much referenced, must-watch video when he was a guest on CNN’s (short lived) show “Crossfire.” The point of the show was for the two hosts, Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, to represent the two ends of the political spectrum while debating issues and interviewing guests/politicians. The goal of the show was to use these two men with different philosophies to put guests and issues into the “crossfire” between the biases. Stewart, however, went on the show and gave the hosts a browbeating when he challenged their goal and their worth as political commentators, calling them at one point “partisan hacks” and saying that media like theirs is “hurting us” as a nation. It’s definitely an interesting take on what part bias plays in political coverage.

So the way I see it is that bias will always play a role in political discourse and it is up to people as individuals to take from news coverage what is important. As for me, I try to get different angles on stories from multiple sources in order to see through any biases that may come through in the coverage, but truly it fits with the whole “marketplace of ideas” concept that journalism advocates to accept the inevitable biases of media and let the truth arise from the conversation that will follow.

Personally, I like reading news that has the opposite bias from my opinions, because I like to get a little heated (just a little) when it comes to politics…but that’s just me.

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