Posts Tagged ‘media bias’

Blog #12: Interesting/Boring Class Discussions

This class has certainly been one that has taught me a lot. Heck, not only that but it has also made me aware of influences on my everyday life.

For starters I enjoyed the discussions concerning the way social networking affects our lives in ways of getting political news. A perfect example of this discussion becoming a reality took place last evening when I was checking my Twitter before beginning some homework. While, I was scrolling through the posts I stumbled across one stating that President Obama was to give a speech on an undisclosed topic. From here I quickly turned on the news and watched until reporters were able to confirm that the United States had the body of Osama Bin Laden. From there I continued to watch until President Obama came on to speak. Without the use of this social network, I would have never known what was going on. I related all of this information back to our political information sources discussions; it was very neat.

From here I was able to connect my life to another one of our interesting discussions.  This one was concerning the concept that Presidency had to do with strategy and image. After watching the speech given by Barack Obama concerning Bin Laden’s death I was able to explain the aspects of this interesting in class discussion to my roommates. I told them that this was going to be good for Obama’s approval ratings and re-election, just as 9/11 was a positive thing for former President Bush’s campaign. The connect I was able to make made this class not only more relevant to my everyday life but made me appreciate the discussions that I previously found enjoyable.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the book “The Selling of the President” and our discussions following that. Not only were they extremely interesting but also applicable to politics today. It opened my eyes about what exactly was going on.

While I found almost every aspect of this class to be interesting and worth my while I would not rate the discussions concerning Media Objectivity as one of my favorite. However, it was still some what interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on the matter.

All in all, this class included many topics and discussions that I found to be worth my while, not only as something that was enjoyable but something that I was able to relate to my life as well.


Blog 12: What I Learned

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I learned a lot of interesting things over the course of this semester. The one thing that I really think about still is how the media portrays war. The one part that really stuck with me was how the media never shows American casualties. I never really thought about it and after I started noticing that they never really did show American casualties I was very surprised. Another part of the class I found interesting was when we studying Nixon’s campaign and how it changed American Politics forever. I found it fascinating how the Nixon Campaign kind of sold this image of Nixon to the American public and they bought it hook, line, and sinker.  One final thing I found interesting was when we discussed the Kennedy Campaign. I found it fascinating how much detail campaigns put into voting patterns and where different demographics live and such.

One thing I did not find very interesting was when we discussed Media objectivity and bias. For some reason I did not feel that the readings for those subjects were not very interesting at all. Other than that I really found the class entertaining and relevant. I would definitely recommend this class to someone who is interested in politics or the media.

BLOG 8: The Kings of Comedy and Their Kingdoms of Politics

March 21, 2011 1 comment

Have I made my love for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report obvious yet? I have a tendency to be extremely subtle, I know, so let me re-emphasize: I love the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. As far as Comedy Central goes, neither make me want to kill myself, and, as far as political news shows go, neither make me want to kill myself. Win/win either way, I’d say.

The beauty of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report reaches far beyond Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The Kings of Comedy and Professional TV personalities aside, both shows utilize the one tool that few can use properly to make a point–comedy. Neither TDS nor TCR claim to be news media or even function in the same role as the news itself. Stewart’s even purported this in his famous Crossfire interview when Tucker Carlson began attacking him for not asking enough hard-hitting questions on his show, saying

You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.

But therein lies the power of TDS and TCR. Without the same pressures or structures that guide CNN or MSNBC or Fox News, Stewart and Colbert are able to deliver real, political news in a way that’s relevant to the audience. The addition of humor and clips pieced together to show hypocrisy and inconsistencies within other news media networks hardly takes away from the political news content–if anything, it adds to it by adding relevance and perspective.

That isn’t to say that TDS and TCR don’t have their own leanings. Stewart and Colbert make fun of left and right politicians and journalists alike, but their leanings are obviously clear. They are equal opportunity offenders, but even a third grader can see that Stewart leans left and while Colbert certainly comes off as more centrist, he probably leans left as well.

Maybe that turns some viewers away from both shows. I, personally, think it makes it that much more interesting to watch and that much more genuine. If Stewart, who is clearly a liberal, hits hard at the Democrats and Obama–which he does, often–then it makes him seem more balanced, puts the hypocrisies in our system into perspective.

Either way, whether or not you believe TDS and TCR are left-leaning satires or that they convey real, political news, there can be no doubt that they inspire political participation, even in the loosest of senses. TDS and TCR are perfect for the news culture we live in today–they combine humor and news to draw in crowds, make politics relevant to the younger generation, encourage the youth to actually pay attention to the party system and politics and elections. If you’re in doubt about whether or not this is actual political participation, recall The Rally To Restore Sanity. Spearheaded by TDS and TCR, would you really doubt that the hundreds of thousands of participants who showed up that day in October felt like engaged, political participants?

If you do, I question you. As for me, I know that just watching TDS and TCR every night keeps me better informed and better connected with the world of politics than CNN and Wolf Blitzer’s Twitter addiction ever has. xoxo!

Blog 8: what classifies as political news

March 21, 2011 1 comment

Now a days its hard to find someone, especially in my generation, that has not at least seen a few episodes of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. The question is, do these shows really qualify for political news?  I think that the answer is yes, but I could see how people argue that they are not. For starters both shows present news that is happening now. They do not make up the stories that they are using. After presenting a topic they of course, add some sort of comedic spin to it, which in turn makes the topic sounds less serious. I found this clip from 2008 that actually talks about where The Daily Show finds their stories and how they actually find people to interview on the show. They talk about how they do not necessarily want the show to be relevant to the world but relevant to us.

I think thats exactly what they are doing. They are taking what is relevant to them and the United States and discussing it in a light hearted manner. I think that both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report tend to get the ball rolling for young people to listen and interact with the news. These shows push the people watching them to go out and do more research. I know that when I watch one of these shows, and they discuss a topic I want to know more about, I go and find other sources that cover the issue in greater detail. On the other hand I think that some people may not consider The Daily Show and The Colbert Report political news because on these shows it is hard to find in depth detail. The second question is are these shows biased. I also believe that this answer is yes. Like any political show or network it is hard for people to leave their personal thoughts and ideas out, when discussing something like politics. I found this second clip that talks about this. It is Jon Stewart being interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. In the video they also discuss whether or not Jon Stewart understands that he has an influence over the people that watch his show.

I think that both these video represent how both The Daily Show and ,although he is not interviewed, the Colbert Report conduct their show. Both of them have a similar style and approach on how they present and interpret political information. I do think that these two shows promote political participation because as I said earlier, they may inspire the viewers to do more research and become more informed. This is also covered in the video of the Bill O’Reilly video when he is talking about Jon Stewart’s influence on his viewers.

BLOG 8: The Daily Show and Colbert Report

March 21, 2011 1 comment

While Stewart and Colbert’s shows are political news, they are limited political news. They both inform viewers of important political events in the world, but also cover much less ground than authentic newscasts to make room for humorous segments and commentary. This does not make the shows a bad source for political news, but it does make them undesirable sources for one’s only access to news. If an important story doesn’t have potential for a humorous spin, it won’t get covered on the shows, and it is important for viewers to realize this. However, the Daily Show and the Colbert Report have never touted themselves as “authentic” news sources, and therefore have every right to be selective when choosing material to cover.

The expressed comedic intent of the shows also excuses them from being unbiased, which is another reason they should not be viewers’ sole news sources. Stewart especially has made it blatantly clear that his show is not a newscast, and it therefore does have an overtly liberal feel to it. The tongue-in-cheek conservative tone of the Colbert Report also suggests a more liberal leaning. Again, these shows have every right to be biased, but they therefore also don’t provide an objective stance to the viewer, which could be detrimental to voters not getting news from any other source.

While many viewers may start out getting their political news solely from these biased shows, the Daily Show and Colbert report may encourage them to look deeper into the government. Politics can often be hard for many, especially young people, to understand or be interested in, and these shows provide an easy foot in the political door. By combining comedy with politics the shows do promote political participation, and while some viewers may not go beyond them, others may delve deeper into politics thanks to Stewart and Colbert.

Blog 7: Does it Matter Where You Get Your News?

March 16, 2011 1 comment

People normally don’t like hearing the opinions of other people, especially if the line of thought contradicts your own. Walking past speakers circle on any given day you can hear people preaching to you on a number of subjects, and most of the time we just put our heads down and keep walking. It’s human nature to not want to listen to things different from what we are used to, so why should that change with the news we consume? When it comes to news agencies the pillar of the Right is Fox News and the bastion of the Left is MSNBC. Both channels claim the other of hypocrisy and of spreading  misinformation.  With hard-core Republicans getting their news from Fox and hard-core Democrats getting news predominantly from MSNBC, what does this mean for the country?

In my opinion people getting their news from just one source is a bad thing, whether it be just from Fox, MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, or The Daily Show. I believe that people need to diversify their news over  many outlets and genres. The more different types of news people consume the more well-rounded they will be on a subject, and thus be able make a sound decision at the polls. When watching partisan news networks one has to be carefull not get too drawn in to what they are saying and keep in mind where they are coming from. Just look at how the two sides reported the protests in Wisconsin.

As seen above, Fox News makes the protestors look like thugs who will kill people who get in their way while ruining the United States. MSNBC made the protestors look like David fighting Goliath for the right to have a say in their lives against corporate greed. If a person just watched one of the above channels for all of their news it is easy to say that their view of the world may be a bit skewed.

In the end I think that the politically charged rhetoric from news sources is bad not just for individuals, but for our country as a whole. People like Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow increase partisanship and decrease compromise. In my opinion it is best for people to get their news sources from a plethora of places and keep an open mind on subjects.

BLOG 7: Que Sera Sera, What We’ll Want, We’ll Watch

March 16, 2011 1 comment

Here are some commonly accepted truths: first, that the Earth is a sphere and spends much of its year rotating around the sun, second, that no matter what teams play, the best part of the Super Bowl always has and always will be the commercials, and third, that Democrats hate Fox News and Republicans hate MSNBC and I, frankly, hate both.

Fox News, bastion of conservatism and entertaining, if more-than-slightly off-the-rocker, TV personalities such as Glenn Beck, and MSNBC, anchor for liberalism and not-so-ironic paneled discussions that debate such vital issues as Obama’s decision in pets, are used as the stereotypical, unparalleled examples of Liberal and Conservative bias in the media. While the presence of that bias in-and-of-itself is a separate discussion, there’s no debate that Republicans, on the whole, turn to Fox News for information while Democrats, as a whole, turn to CNN, MSNBC, or NPR.

The question then is–does it actually matter?

Here’s the thing you’ll learn in any middle-to-upper level political science (or even psychology) course: people consume that media which reinforces their existing biases. That is to say, whether or not Fox News or MSNBC offer biased accounts of political coverage is hardly a concern. Whether or not the Republican and Democratic mainstays presented balanced coverage, viewers would still only really consume that information that reinforced what they already believed in.

In my opinion, this, subsequently, makes forced consumption of opposing sources less than effective. Here’s the deal. It’s pretty obvious what my political ideology is. I choose not to consume CNN or MSNBC because, frankly, both stations irritate the hell out of me. However, when comparing information from CNN to information from Fox, I will always be more inclined to believe CNN because Fox is my ideological opposite. Fox can report breaking news to me and I will be skeptical of it until I hear the same information reported from the New York Times or even Jon Stewart.

In that manner, it doesn’t really matter if Republicans get their news from one source and I get my news from another. In an ideal world, both Republicans and Democrats would get their political news from both left and right leaning sources. But in reality, and in my opinion, there’s little point in forcing a Republican to watch Democratic sources and a Democrat to watch Republican sources if neither the Republican nor the Democrat are going to believe the source or retain the information.

As there are fact-checkers, keeping those sources legitimate, as long as the possibility to explore the other side still exists, there’s really no harm and no foul in letting Republicans and Democrats gravitate to those sources that support their ideology. Hey, it makes political debates that much more entertaining, right?

Either way, my solution is to force everyone to watch the Stewart-Colbert line up. Of course, inevitably, someone will believe that Colbert’s bias isn’t blatantly obvious satire and that he actually believes the things that he says and I’ll have to laugh at them. It will be a desperate, sad sort of laugh. But you know. Small steps! xoxo!