Media (Bias & Elections) - align“ 04"35"“...

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Unformatted text preview: align“ 04" "35"“?- , iv\E:0'\Fi/WESSS UMGJK gin/aim Ck's Consmvciocn' “Con’WAWWE ' argue that it is liberal. Republicans say it favors Democrats. Democrats argue the opposite. Organizations on the right, such as the Media Research Center, accuse the media of a liberal bias. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAR), ' ral group, provides its own evidence of a conservative bias in reportin . Such accusations are called content or political bias. It is the idea that re- porters and news organizations are promoting a specific political perspective or agenda in the content of their stories. The difficulty this perspective is that most of the scholarly research into this question does not confirm that content bias occurs. The perception that it does is related more to the political orientations of the critics than to the political orientation of the content of me— dia messages. Those with strong views see any COmpeting perspectives as “wrong” and their own views as correct. Consequently, a report that provides an evenhanded analysis of a competing point of view is seen as biased, but someone holding the competing View would see the same report as fair.24 Claims of political or content bias are tied to the idea that the medi supposed to be unbiased or "objective" in reporting events. As noted ear— lier, the standard of objectivity in the news emerged in the nineteenth cen- tury as newspapers began to lose their partisan character and startedttp K. appeal to mass audiences. In addition, as journalists became more "pro:— fessional” in their orientation, they developed a. set of accepted standards and practices that culminated in the idea that reporting on politics should be “value free.”25 W the standard of objectivity is what sho e questione . eporting the news is a process of selectin an in e retin events that~ are inherently valfie‘lademfifusmmmmes and practices W55 because most evfiences—ugge‘sts m not idEBlEgical or partisan in nature. “mm WWge is referred to as structural bias. Structural bias “is that which occurs as a result of the ap- their system of selecting some kinds of information as news and re'ectin truc a as results in patterns of coverage that consistently appear in news reporting. These patterns result from limitations, constraints, and demands that are built into the practice of journalism. Structural bias is also the consequence of the medium itself; it has different manifestations in television than it does ‘ ormats. Structural bias is especially important in television news because this is where most people get their news. The existence of structural bias may be more subtle than content bias, but it is also more rvasive. “The Liberal Media Myth Revisited: An Examination of Factors influencing Perceptions of Media Bias," Tien-Tsung Lee. Find links to groups on the left and on the right who claim the media are biased. Sources of Structural Bias Most sources of structural bias are rooted in the co orate foundation of the nation’s media companies. As noted earlier, the nationgl media are controlled y a 0 ve lar e co orations t at are rirnaril concerned ' WWW are onl tangentially in erested in servin the public interest. All of these corporations are also part of the entertainment /’\ The Question of Bias industry: Theymake moneyby oflering people various means to amuse them- V ’ 331k ll, é selves. Television makes money by keeping people tuned in to its programs; ’ cie l ’ newspapers make money based on the number of subscribers they havege‘ i” VE number of people who watch a particular program or read a s ecific newspa— ‘ 3i des _ un= Structural Biaiz Explore I an a ertis Ilia-IE. oWnse- "““ v is misfiiifiieéi'g'fit” metres? swatchmg ans/2m .«s: . g exercise. - onsequence is that entertammem esave become mcreasmgly TI‘ . ‘ evident in television news. Reporters are chosen as much for their appear- . ‘— ance as for their journalistic skills. Nightly news anchors are celebrities who A; are regularly featured on Entertainment Tonight. They are profiled, along with mc movie stars and television actors, in People magazine. The networks have found the that they can package Wprograms in an entertaining format, and fie: Z suit is the proliferation of shows such as Primetime, Dateline, and 60 Min— g Q 5 utes. These shows may appear news oriented, but their definition of news is E I more likely to E;- 5 celebrity in 7‘ so; ews programs do not generate nearly as much revenue as other forms ’SE programming for the networks. Consequently, a relatively small por— ? tel« 5 tion of the daily programming is dedicated to the news. Time constraints 1m ‘ are a key component of structural bias. The major commercial networks 11v. devote a half—hour of programmingeach evening to. their national news cal show. When commercials are eliminated, the airtime (is approximately p0 twenty-two to twenty-four minutes. Individual stories on the news are “usually no longérmconds. This is simply not enough time to F. c public poli stories in detail, particularly stories that are about ' V! f We time constraints have also led to the Ne proliferation of sound bites. These are short clips, usually no longer than R ' (\th ten seconds, of statements that people in the news have made. Given the pa length of time they are allotted, the statements need to be catchy phrases, era and the full context of the statement is often not clarified. N ha: The entertainment values of television place major visual demands on its nit presentation of the news. Since it is a visual medium, pictures are essential. of News events without an inherently visual componentmimsW an polic concerns ha - ‘ ‘ ‘ ' - - — ' - L e. C versely, _ events that are inherently Visual ublic si - ' ' , often wl appear on the news because of e pictures at accompany them. to The definition of news is another element of structural bias. The five a1) mOst widely used criteria for choos‘ news stories/are (1) strong'impacth ch ' (2) violence, coagict, disaster, Scan al; (3) familiarity; (4) proximity; (5) time- tht liness and nov ty. The most important of these are conflict, proximity, and SE timeliness.28 The criterion of timeliness means that ongoing issues or pub- I de § lic policy problems are usually not seen as news because they are routine ' de j , and not new or novel. The emphasis on conflict also means that compro- ' De mise and consensus, which occur on a regular basis in political decision j01 making, are not newsworthy. no (~— Eifisz/Sisahaaysabeutcogfljst. In addition, ngwgiigeBerafly defined as ‘ to /’“‘ “ . - . CHAPTER 6: The Media and American Politics n— i bad news. Editors .ikelytdairggdLEt stories ab t ublic poli- IS; .31 cies at are failing than about t se cceedin ‘s leaves the ‘ . gig vmtaken impression that nothing ever goes the way it is J ,a— designed because W St, ' understanding of what constitutes news. ;e_ W .137 The Mediated Electoral Process u- ho Arguably, the aspect of the political process in which the media have had the ith most impact is that of campaigns and elections. It is also where one can see 15!» the effects of structural bias most clearly. With the decline in political par— “ - W in- election for the voters. The mass media, especially television, are the means ‘15 throu h ' ublic is ma e a are 0 e electoral choices presented Rd to them. Most eo le never have e 0 or to ‘ ' er- son; their contact with those running for office is throu h their televis' 115 sets. rom e pomt of View of those running for office, the media, especially 3- television, have become the primary campaign tools. They have eclipsed po— lls litical parties as the organizational vehicles through which candidates de- ka _ . liver their message to the electorate. The impact of the media on elections W8 ' can be seen in three specific areas: thenews coverage of the campaign, paid ‘ .31Y v political advertising, and televised debates between candidates. are > , to ’ )ut _ the News coverage of olitical campaigns is referred to as the free media because Lane" 0 g or office can reach the public through this medium without the paying for the airtime. Numerous studies have shown that news media cov- -.es, . eragev of elections falls into discernible patterns. The dominant pattern that ' 1. has emerged is to tell the story of elections in terms that emphasize the "horse . its ‘ ' ' race” aspect of the campaign. Horse race stories highlight the "game; aspects “ ial. ' ‘ (micetion by focusing on the strategic decisions made by the campaigns QC and by neglecting the issues and policy stands of the candidates. ‘ 31 , I We frames an election by emphasizing who is ahead and ten 1 I who is behind in the carripaign. It relies on the results of public opinion polls _ ‘ t to assess who is winning and losing at any given point. Horse race stories an— "ive alyze campaigns mainly by focusing on the "game plan,” or the strategic act; . choices made by the candidates. These stories place much less attention on ne— ‘ the ublic policy com onents ofmmame 1nd ‘ Mpg of events than someone ub— describing the events that have occurred. This is what Thomas Patterson has fine ‘ described as the movement away from descriptive to interpretive journalism. rro— Descriptive journalism focuses on the “what” of events, whereas interpretive I .ion p ‘ journalism focuses on the "why." When reporters interpret events, they do ' 11% , not use partisan criteria; their evaluation is tied to the "game," and they tend 3 1 asN to focus on who is ahead and behind in the race.29 a A 1 ; The Mediated Electoral Process ...
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