The Mainstream Media and media bias

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The Mainstream Media and media bias

Postby space_raptor » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:18 pm UTC

I would like to express my disillusionment with the "mainstream media", that is, CNN, FOX, national news, the whole big machine which gives ordinary people their news on the world.

I don't think that we get an accurate picture of the world from these sources. I think that our "free press" is failing to do their jobs. The media seems to follow a philosophy of "selling" their news, instead of providing information that is useful. So we get Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears instead of legitimate issues. And the legitimate issues are glossed over, wrapped and presented to us in sound bites so that we don't have to come to our own conclusions.

I don't think there is necessarily a political bias that applies to the whole industry either way. But I do think individual sources are corrupted, and that the quality of the news is forsaken in the pursuit of ratings.

I think that any hack with a political cause can get in the paper or on television as long as his views are controversial, but still easily packaged. It pisses me off when what is basically propaganda is presented as if it was a legitimate viewpoint.

What do you guys think? Should news organizations "present all viewpoints", no matter how warped? Or should they have a duty to apply reasonable judgement?
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Postby Belial » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:25 pm UTC

What do you guys think? Should news organizations "present all viewpoints", no matter how warped? Or should they have a duty to apply reasonable judgement?


No. The idea that there have to be two viewpoints and that each should be given equal consideration and time is often ridiculous. The intelligent design debate springs to mind.

The press, ideally, has an obligation to report the truth. Facts. Not people's opinions on the facts. Or the facts, and then an equal amount of time dedicated to what some right (or left) wing wackoes WISH the facts were.

Just the facts.

That's what irritates me about the 24 hour news networks, really: they don't report news. They fill their time with opinion shows. "Bill O'Reilly tells you what he thinks of the news", or whatever. If I wanted to be told what to *think* about the news, I would ask myself, thanks. If we could please get back to telling me what the news *is*.
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Re: The Mainstream Media and media bias

Postby Tractor » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:33 pm UTC

space_raptor wrote:I don't think that we get an accurate picture of the world from these sources. I think that our "free press" is failing to do their jobs. The media seems to follow a philosophy of "selling" their news, instead of providing information that is useful. So we get Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears instead of legitimate issues. And the legitimate issues are glossed over, wrapped and presented to us in sound bites so that we don't have to come to our own conclusions.

I thoroughly concur.

space_raptor wrote:I don't think there is necessarily a political bias that applies to the whole industry either way. But I do think individual sources are corrupted, and that the quality of the news is forsaken in the pursuit of ratings.

Also true. And both sides spin it as they will, and we end up with the two extreme 'viewpoints' on a subject, neither one necessarily accurate.

space_raptor wrote:What do you guys think? Should news organizations "present all viewpoints", no matter how warped? Or should they have a duty to apply reasonable judgement?

You konw what would be really nice? If they actually gave us the news. I want to know what's going on, just the facts, and in a timely manner. I don't want inane stories played over and over and over and over and over and over again, each time with less relative facts.

Thusly, I don't watch real news at all anymore. I watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, because there I know what I'm getting. It's not murky and spun for deception. It's humor, done for ratings, but with some decent information thrown in. And I'd rather laugh at that then cry at the crap they call actual news.
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Postby fjafjan » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:44 pm UTC

Okey, American media as crazier then most
What is really crazy, and scary, is that there is virtually only two media outlets in the world, TT and AP, and often these give out completely warped images of the truth.
Example - There was as some might know some arguments over a youth building in Cobenhagen a mont or so ago, this was what actually occured

This building has been 'occupied' by youths, basically playing music, etc etc for a long time, so some 5-10 years ago the city decided to give the house to these youths, it had then already a long history of cultural importance and a hub for mostly 'alternative' people young people in denmark aswell as other parts of europe.
Then a year or two ago there was a banner on this building, stating "annarchists from hell", this was seen by a free religious christian group, who decided that ntohing from hell could be in Cobenhagen, so they wanted to buy it to demolish it, and build a church.
The city said yes, depite having already givven it away.
There were protests, and some violence between police and protestors, and the way this played out varies greatly from "in country" sources that was actually there, and magazines and media getting their reports from TT and or AP, displaying it more or less as the crazy youths going crazy, rather than being righfully pissed after the state stole their hours.

Another beef I have with media is oten that they, luckily not so much Public Swedish media, decide that there are for some reason 2 sides to most issues. Not 8, or fourty thousand, but two. And then they group in people as somehwere between these two, usually chose the most nutty on both these two sides, and have them argue.
It's fucking retarded
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Re: The Mainstream Media and media bias

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:51 pm UTC

space_raptor wrote:But I do think individual sources are corrupted, and that the quality of the news is forsaken in the pursuit of ratings.


Definitely. People like to talk about the liberal or conservative bias in the media as though all "news" sources lean to one side or the other. But you're right, it's a ratings bias more than anything else. Some sources will lean to one side or the other politically, but I think that's mostly because of the political views of their general audience and the fact that pandering to those views will keep the ratings up.

space_raptor wrote:Should news organizations "present all viewpoints", no matter how warped?


Absolutely not. As others have said, sometimes the "other side" is simply factually wrong. You can't have an impartial debate between true and false viewpoints, because one is true and the other is false. Now I understand that in the real world most issues are not so cut-and-dried, but my answer remains.

After all, I think we all could at least imagine a publicized debate over something like whether .9999999... = 1.000000...

Of course, I think the average person would have to care more about math for that to happen.
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Postby 3.14159265... » Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:53 pm UTC

Problems I have with the media currently:

They don't show dead bodies in Iraq. They just gives numbers of deaths. This takes away the person that died.

They didn't show saddam's death, that was SERIOUSLY like a 16th century hanging.

They call Hammas militants, and Israel's "Kahana" is NEVER mentioned even.

Israel and America always capture, while others kidnap.

THIS is the BIGGEST thing I have against the media. Stop using loaded words, they even trick ME sometimes!

Even when it comes to non-foreign issues, frickin CANADIAN news stations, that are pretty good I think, still use MANY loaded words describing Harper vs Layton vs Dion vs Duceepe (sp?)


I get my news from Colbert report and Daily show. They have biases too but they let you see through it by letting you know its there. Also I get my news from http://www.georgegalloway.com Watch the vids.[/url]
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Postby Patashu » Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:39 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
What do you guys think? Should news organizations "present all viewpoints", no matter how warped? Or should they have a duty to apply reasonable judgement?


No. The idea that there have to be two viewpoints and that each should be given equal consideration and time is often ridiculous. The intelligent design debate springs to mind.


As convulted as Intelligent Design is, you can't prove beyond all doubt that it ISN'T true.

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Postby Belial » Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:45 pm UTC

If there's no evidence that it *is* true, it doesn't deserve to be put on equal footing with a theory that has heaps of evidence.

It deserves to be put on equal footing with all the *other* theories that have no evidence to support them but technically can't be proven false, like the one where Amun-Ra masturbates the universe and everything in it into existence*, or the one where we're all just the fever-dream of a pink unicorn who ate a bad burrito-plant, and when the fever finally kills him we'll all cease to exist.

I suppose Intelligent design can duke it out with *those* theories on a cable access show somewhere.

But it was just an example. If you want to discuss it further, head on over to the evolution thread.

*No offense to any of you Kemetic Orthodoxes out there, but even the egyptian high priests knew their religion was just figurative.
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Postby OmenPigeon » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:25 pm UTC

I mentioned this briefly in Communication, but I think it's more relevant here.

The medium is the message. The form of what the TV says is vastly more important that the actual pictures it uses. Specifically, news shows work off soundbites; nothing that takes more than thirty seconds to say is going to be said. This ensures that the sort of deep, impassioned, impartial discussion that most of us really want from our media outlets is never going to be there. Never, ever. At least not on television.

Moreover, the technology of broadcast television lends itself to this type of communication. Shows have to make sure that someone tuning in halfway through can pick up the thread of the narrative and follow it easily. They have to work within fairly compressed timeframes because of periodic broadcasts: fictional shows, game shows, sports games. These shows are needed because the primary source of revenue for television broadcasters comes from advertising, and viewers can most commonly be relied upon to watch something familiar; something that happens at the same time every day or week. The technology of broadcast television determines what sort of content gets shown on television. The medium is the message.

I disagree about the role of interpretation in mass media news reporting. For example, I'm only passingly versed in the geopolitics of the middle east. I know more than some, but a lot less than the people who spend their lives in international politics. When I read a news story about something thats happening in Iraq I want facts, yes. But I also need to know about the context those facts are in. I need to know about the significance of the facts. And I don't have the time to exhaustively study the history of the region, to really understand the political realities of modern-day Iraq. That requires and expert. This is, for me, the value of traditional mass media, more specifically long-form mass media like newspapers. By having a team of people who have taken the time to become experts in a field a newspaper can give me all this context, this interpretation. The opinion of someone who has spent their life working to understand Iraq is much more valuable than my layman's opinion.

This is exactly the sort of thing I don't get from television, I agree wholeheartedly that the goddamn noisy-box is nigh unto useless for quality news. Even if someone wanted to give me solid, intelligent, well thought out news over a television, they couldn't. The medium is the message.
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Postby Peshmerga » Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:16 pm UTC

The media isn't accountable for the truth; they're a private organization and should be treated the same as any sitcom out there.

If you want to be informed, do your own research with as much accuracy as possible.
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Postby Patashu » Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:19 pm UTC

Belial wrote:If there's no evidence that it *is* true, it doesn't deserve to be put on equal footing with a theory that has heaps of evidence.

It deserves to be put on equal footing with all the *other* theories that have no evidence to support them but technically can't be proven false, like the one where Amun-Ra masturbates the universe and everything in it into existence*, or the one where we're all just the fever-dream of a pink unicorn who ate a bad burrito-plant, and when the fever finally kills him we'll all cease to exist.


Okay, this I can deal with.

We'll go stuff it in with 'gravity is a push', 'psionic vampires are real' and 'the earth is flat'

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Postby Aoeniac » Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:50 am UTC

Oh I don't usually have problems with the credibility of news, I only watch the news channels that slant things in a direction favorable to my own views anyway.

What *I* have problems with is what they consider to be news itself!

I can't believe half the crap that gets put on a news report just to fill time or hold viewer interest! And whenever something that might actually be somewhat newsworthy shows up, it gets twisted, dramatized, SENSATIONALIZED beyond the point where it would have any useful meaning at all to me.

News shouldn't be an industry! It should be a service. Scheduled news is... is... it's an oxymoron!


Not that it matters. I haven't got a newspaper subscription and I don't watch TV anymore.
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Postby quebedox » Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:23 am UTC

The broadcast media are - at this juncture - biased toward profit.
That also means that they, being advertising dependent, show a corporatist bias. There are certain topics that are verboten at any price. An easy example is the fact that "Adbusters" have such a hard time actually purchasing airtime for anti-consumption messages. They have the money, but they are prevented from spending it.

The real bias is in what is NOT open for discussion. Memes you don't hear much about on broadcast media:
Globalization / Fair Trade / Perot was right back in '92
Capitalism != Democracy
The impact of Western consumption
"Citizenship". You'll almost never hear an American referred to much of anything other than "consumer".
"The Free Market"(tm) cannot exist without the government providing a framework for trade in the first place (eg: currency, trade agreements, laws, etc.)

or my favorite (and if this takes us off topic, please go to another thread):
You get to choose from 31 flavors of ice cream, dozens of channels, tons of celebrities to follow...
...but you get 2 choices in politics.
That's one more than the Soviets had!

This idea is never challenged in a media that prefers a horse race because it's cheaper and easier to cover that way, and simplicity suits the medium of television.


The FCC is supposed to review and revoke the broadcast licenses of broadcasters that are not serving the public interest. It's high time we revisit this idea.

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Postby VannA » Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:40 am UTC

Aoeniac wrote:
News shouldn't be an industry! It should be a service. Scheduled news is... is... it's an oxymoron!


BAM!

News is one of the few industries that I believe should be heavily, heavily regulated.. and, in fact, I would prefer that news was non-profit BY LAW, or publically owned.

Making money from reporting the news should not be allowed, simply because it no longer becomes a tool for dissemination of information, and becomes an entertainment industry.
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Postby Roffle » Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:35 am UTC

VannA wrote:
Aoeniac wrote:
News shouldn't be an industry! It should be a service. Scheduled news is... is... it's an oxymoron!


BAM!

News is one of the few industries that I believe should be heavily, heavily regulated.. and, in fact, I would prefer that news was non-profit BY LAW, or publically owned.

Making money from reporting the news should not be allowed, simply because it no longer becomes a tool for dissemination of information, and becomes an entertainment industry.


Yes, well... It is. At least partly, and at least in Norway. NRK (Norwegian State Broadcasting) is a governement controlled, governement funded organisation that is responisible for several TV channels, and most of the radio channels in my country.

It does provide an interesting counterpoint to the major private news network, TV2, but of course, the quality and entertainment value differs a lot here.

And of course, there's the questionability of a news agency being owned and operated by the governement. It's not such a big problem here, considering the fact that there are a bunch of private news networks here as well, but still, it calls into question wether a governement controlled network can truly be called a "free press".

That being said, it works. No advertisements, unbiased (and boring), and trustworthy news broadcasting. The downside? Everyone with a television set is monitored closely, and if your name shows up in gov's records as a tv owner, you have to pay an annual fee (extra tax) of around 2200 kroner (about 200 British Pounds, or 350 USD) a year, for life. Unless you can prove that you don't own a TV set any more.

Your point is a good one. News shouldn't be entertainment. But it shouldn't be under governemental control either.
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Postby evilbeanfiend » Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:26 am UTC

Also true. And both sides spin it as they will, and we end up with the two extreme 'viewpoints' on a subject, neither one necessarily accurate.


pretty much sums up most uk media.

http://www.badscience.net/ has several pieces on media bias on science reporting.

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Postby Tractor » Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:10 pm UTC

Peshmerga wrote:The media isn't accountable for the truth; they're a private organization and should be treated the same as any sitcom out there.

The problem there being that they construe themselves to be accurate and accountable for truth, and many people take them on their word.

Aoeniac wrote:What *I* have problems with is what they consider to be news itself!

I can't believe half the crap that gets put on a news report just to fill time or hold viewer interest! And whenever something that might actually be somewhat newsworthy shows up, it gets twisted, dramatized, SENSATIONALIZED beyond the point where it would have any useful meaning at all to me.

QFT
An example that comes to mind was the missing girl in aruba. They showed film of a barrel on CNN for a ridiculous amount of time, despite the fact that it was pre-recorded footage and it had been already opened and discovered to not contain anything useful. Really though the whole story was covered to death and then some. Right up there with OJ, jonbenet ramsey, britney spears, etc, etc, etc. They pick one story to sensationalize to death while countless other, more important, stories get the shaft.

Aoeniac wrote:News shouldn't be an industry! It should be a service. Scheduled news is... is... it's an oxymoron!

QFT
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Postby space_raptor » Tue Mar 20, 2007 7:50 pm UTC

VannA wrote:
Aoeniac wrote:
News shouldn't be an industry! It should be a service. Scheduled news is... is... it's an oxymoron!


BAM!

News is one of the few industries that I believe should be heavily, heavily regulated.. and, in fact, I would prefer that news was non-profit BY LAW, or publically owned.

Making money from reporting the news should not be allowed, simply because it no longer becomes a tool for dissemination of information, and becomes an entertainment industry.


That's an interesting thought. Make the news non-profit. The people who want to really report the news, to find out what's going on in the world and inform people, might have more power then.

Maybe newspapers should be run along the lines of a university. You'd have student journalists, learning from real journalists how to do their jobs. This would be similar to grad students studying under professors. The students could help with research for stories, and individual journalists could pursue whatever topics they thought were worth time. It would require a lot of government money(which I'm normally against) but it might be the case that this is an industry, such as health care, which can't be left to the private sector alone.
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Postby Tantsui » Sun Mar 25, 2007 8:07 pm UTC

The news in America is particularly biased for an important reason. That reason is partisan politics. When you have a two-party system at either extreme, you can imagine how impossible it would be to be taken seriously (and make a profit) by telling everyone exactly how things are. People want their viewpoints to be catered to, even if they dropped out of high school.

I remember reading some statistics stating that America as a whole is on a sixth grade reading level, or the sort. Maybe ninth grade. The fact still stands, though. Reading level doesn't mean just the vocabulary that they can comprehend. It's the type of concepts they can wrap their heads around. I'm sure the average American doesn't even understand half the topics covered in this thread (basically, all of quebedox's memes), not to mention the fact that their own thoughts are being guided by the media.

Only the educated understand the need for unbiased reporting, and there's no money in catering to them.

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Postby Tractor » Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:22 pm UTC

Tantsui wrote:The news in America is particularly biased for an important reason. That reason is partisan politics. When you have a two-party system at either extreme, you can imagine how impossible it would be to be taken seriously (and make a profit) by telling everyone exactly how things are.

Good point. On a similar thread, isn't it about time we got a new party in here? Preferably one that people won't laugh at.

Tantsui wrote:People want their viewpoints to be catered to, even if they dropped out of high school.

Fair enough. The problem being that there are a lot of ignorant/misinformed/bad/etc views that should be disregarded outright.

Tantsui wrote:I'm sure the average American doesn't even understand half the topics covered in this thread (basically, all of quebedox's memes), not to mention the fact that their own thoughts are being guided by the media.

I just died a little inside when I read that, because it is probably true.

Tantsui wrote:Only the educated understand the need for unbiased reporting, and there's no money in catering to them.

Isn't there though? Don't the educated make more $ (on average), making it more lucrative to cater to them? Or is it really a numbers game where if they can get the little bit of $ from lots of under-educatd people it will net more than lots of cash from a few educated one. Hrm...
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Postby evilbeanfiend » Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:09 pm UTC

Only the educated understand the need for unbiased reporting, and there's no money in catering to them.


im not sure about that, but it may note be enough of a market to force the rest of the media to clean up.

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Postby OmenPigeon » Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:51 pm UTC

Tractor wrote:Isn't there though? Don't the educated make more $ (on average), making it more lucrative to cater to them? Or is it really a numbers game where if they can get the little bit of $ from lots of under-educatd people it will net more than lots of cash from a few educated one. Hrm...


Speaking only from personal experience with a number of educated people, I suspect that there's a pretty strong correlation between what kind of news you want and what kind of things you buy. Specifically (and anecdotally) a desire for unbiased news means you don't want to buy gigantic new cars and Ron Popeil's latest piece of crap. For most of my life my parents (both with postgraduate degrees) spent most of their spare cash on used books. Have you ever seen a used book store advertised on TV?

The educated as a whole may make more money, but I suspect that the things we spend it on aren't amenable to being advertised on TV.
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Postby Teaspoon » Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:56 am UTC

In Australia we have a TV/radio network called the ABC, which is government funded. They don't advertise so they don't have to worry about ratings when they make their broadcasting decisions. Their charter is interesting. The government is basically banned from influencing their content decisions. During election campaigns they're required to give equal time to competing candidates, meaning that if they talk to some in their role as the representative of an area, they have to give the other candidates for that area a chance to discuss the same issue, and if they talk to, say, the minister for communications they also have to give any other parties' shadow ministers for communications the opportunity to announce their policies on the same subject.

The content decisions seem to be based on filling in the gaps that the commercial networks leave. Their news is typically less opiniony than that of the commercial TV and radio networks, and JJJ (their national "youth" radio station) is the least-horrible radio station I've come across in Australia. I'm not a fan of the amount of hip-hop they play these days, but apparently there are enough people who like it that they don't restrict it to one of their minority-music nights like they do with other genres like metal and dance.

Tantsui wrote:When you have a two-party system at either extreme...

Extreme? Your left-wing major party is about as right-wing as our right-wing one!

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Postby space_raptor » Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:32 pm UTC

Teaspoon wrote:
Tantsui wrote:When you have a two-party system at either extreme...

Extreme? Your left-wing major party is about as right-wing as our right-wing one!


Heh. Same goes for Canada.

The ABC sounds like a pretty interesting idea. The CBC, while government funded, does have advertisements, and it sure seems to be a little biased sometimes. I do like having the multi-party system though, I think it makes for a little more nuanced public discourse. Although sometimes it seems like it's just Conservatives v. Liberals.

I have not watched any real television in a long time, so I'm actually not sure how the CBC handles elections and so on. They show the debates, and official speech type stuff, but I don't actually know for sure how balanced they are.
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Re: The Mainstream Media and media bias

Postby Bluesprite » Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:44 pm UTC

space_raptor wrote:I would like to express my disillusionment with the "mainstream media", that is, CNN, FOX, national news, the whole big machine which gives ordinary people their news on the world.

I don't think that we get an accurate picture of the world from these sources. I think that our "free press" is failing to do their jobs. The media seems to follow a philosophy of "selling" their news, instead of providing information that is useful. So we get Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears instead of legitimate issues. And the legitimate issues are glossed over, wrapped and presented to us in sound bites so that we don't have to come to our own conclusions.

I don't think there is necessarily a political bias that applies to the whole industry either way. But I do think individual sources are corrupted, and that the quality of the news is forsaken in the pursuit of ratings.

I think that any hack with a political cause can get in the paper or on television as long as his views are controversial, but still easily packaged. It pisses me off when what is basically propaganda is presented as if it was a legitimate viewpoint.

What do you guys think? Should news organizations "present all viewpoints", no matter how warped? Or should they have a duty to apply reasonable judgement?


I think disillusionment is the right word. You were believing the illusion that newspapers are what you should refer to for balanced analysis of issues that are important to you. This is not the role of newspapers.

The role of newspapers and news services is to describe in broad strokes the major features of what is going on in the world that instant. They are there to expose, not to inform. For that they are extremely good. If you use news services for this, you will no longer care how they characterize things, as you will simply use it as a tool to discover what things you feel you should do more research on.

If you want information, go to the sources.

Allow me to give an example:

You read an article about Obama, saying how awful he is as a human being and how Clinton should obviously be elected. You see him misquoted.

Result: You are angry at the bias of said newspaper.

What should have happened: You discover that Obama has recently published a speech, which you then seek out and read, thus becoming informed.

The key here is that it didn't matter whether the newspaper was neutral or biased toward x or toward y. It would not have carried Obama's speech. It's simply not their jobs. A clear picture is for you to work toward.

Alternatively, if you don't want to go to the sources, realize that there are publications that do good analysis of specific issues. If you want to get good analysis of international relations, try stratfor or globalsecurity.com or some such. If you want a clear picture of the market, get a copy of valueline. These guys do analysis. Newspapers simply do not serve that function.

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Postby Rose34 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:59 pm UTC

Do any of you who are from America listen to NPR? This is the whole reason they exist. I love it, which is not to say that it's perfect. They receive some government funding, and donations from some corporate sponsors, but mostly their funding comes from the exact same wealthy and educated people you're talking about. The listeners donate money because that way they get the news they want from someone who doesn't have to package it for corporations. There are studies showing that the more education you have, the more likely you are to listen to NPR. Now they do have trouble getting out of the two party partisanship, but they are so much clearer, they actually give you the facts and the context, they have an Ombidsmun who seems to me anyway to be pretty independant, and over all I think most of you posting should go to their website, npr.org, go to the member site WAMC and listen to the show the Media Project. They talk about exactly this sort of thing, and how to avoid falling into exactly these pitfalls.

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Postby Belial » Tue Mar 27, 2007 4:54 pm UTC

I listen to NPR every morning and evening, and also during lunch. They please me. Especially the Thomas Jefferson Hour. Best hour of radio ever.

Their music programs tend to be kindof meh, though.
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rybread
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Postby rybread » Mon Apr 02, 2007 9:29 pm UTC

As a student of Journalism, the fact that my textbooks are updated to discuss the difference between opinion and fact in the mainstream media's televised and broadcasted programming frightens me.

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Postby space_raptor » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:58 pm UTC

@ Bluesprite

So what did people do before the internet? Ten or fifteen years ago I couldn't have gotten a lot of the information I am able to get with ease now. Have newspapers and television news gotten a lot worse since the advent of the internet?
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Postby Akula » Tue Apr 03, 2007 3:53 am UTC

My own 2 cents...

There isn't a bias in the media. The media is just incredibly bad at it's job. Or what I think their job ought to be at least.

The best example is Iraq. They offered no room for a different opinion before the war. In other words, no one in the press questioned how good the information was. On the flipside of the coin, in the 4 years since the only positive story I've ever seen on the TV was the elections.

They screw up in both directions politically, or just in general when there is no political angle. And they do it a lot more frequently then you would suspect. A friend of mine died in a snowmobile accident last year. Despite no indication or word from law enforcement, the local news stated "alcohol is believed to be involved" in their first report. In short, it's not that the media is biased politically, they are just biased towards sensationalism. News sells better when it's alarming, exciting, or upsetting.

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Postby Teaspoon » Tue Apr 03, 2007 5:41 am UTC

Something clicked in my brain while I was reading Akula's post. Newspapers love getting letters back about their stories. It proves to advertisers that people really are reading and it gives them content to put in the paper for free. Not only do they get to put the content in for free, but the letters they print don't even have to follow their usual rules about the sort of content they have. No fact-checking and they don't even have to disguise the opinion-ramming as reporting.

While claiming that alcohol was involved didn't really make the snowmobile accident story more alarming, exciting or upsetting, it certainly gave people an excuse to write their self-righteous little letters about these damn drunk snowmobile-drivers you see these days and how they didn't have them back in the good old days when people had some discipline in their drinking and so on and so forth. It also gives something that looks a bit like an excuse for the accident happening other than poor conditions, inadequate snowmobile-driving instruction or equipment failure, which would leave people feeling like it could happen to them too.

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Postby ArchangelShrike » Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:08 am UTC

No, most news isn't given as accurately as it could be. We have the sensationalized stories, the crazy letters and view points of the uneducated. Without trying to go overboard, I've been demonized and called racist simply for being Hawaiian (long story.)

But if you don't turn to the major news outlets, where do you get the news from, other than The Daily Show and The Colbert Report? Are there certain independent news feeds you go to that you could share with the rest of us, with a more or less objective view? Or do you wait for a peer to share news?

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Postby cmacis » Tue Apr 03, 2007 8:27 am UTC

I find that headline and first paragraph of a newspaper article usually have the facts or at least all the facts they are giving you. Usually it's worth skimming the rest in case they later contradict the first part.
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Postby Bluesprite » Thu Apr 05, 2007 9:31 pm UTC

space_raptor wrote:@ Bluesprite

So what did people do before the internet? Ten or fifteen years ago I couldn't have gotten a lot of the information I am able to get with ease now. Have newspapers and television news gotten a lot worse since the advent of the internet?


First sources have always been around.

The White House, to my knowledge, has always issued press releases. Political parties have always kept copies of the speeches their candidates have put forward. There have always been people who do analysis under the cover of magazines. Indeed, there have been many analysis publications that have had a variety of points of view, and a great many of them would, and still do, deliver right to your door.

The internet has made it a lot more convenient to receive all of these media, including newspapers.

Edit: I find it very hard to agree with the point of view that news services should be held responsible for the way lazy people form their first impressions.
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Postby cmacis » Thu Apr 05, 2007 11:30 pm UTC

If you want to see publicly funded news then head over to the bbc website. They have written news pages as well as clips and live broadcasts online. Generally they are decent and worth watching, though sometimes the licence fee is extortionate. Recently I've noticed some dumbing down of the news, or at least of the way it is presented. The reporters have to pass over to the other presenter to finish the sentence. When did the attention span of the public drop so low? Programs can't show anything without cut, cut, cut before you've looked closely enough.

About political parties: head over to http://www.politicalcompass.org . The two dimensional model works so nicely and show so clearly how little difference there is between parties. I'm a bit screwed over here since the only party anywhere near me is the greens, and I'm not fanatical about the environment. Yes, I'm interested in making sure we don't all die, but lets at least have some power source left standing. The two biggest parties are nigh indistinguishable, and the third isn't far off either.
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Postby crazylucifer » Fri Apr 06, 2007 2:38 pm UTC

Here in Australia, a lot of right wingers believe that our publicly funded television station, the ABC, has a left wing bias. It actually doesn't. What it does have is the first program in the world to investigate media bias and unethical behavior, Mediawatch.
The main reason the right winger believe that our ABC has a left wing bias is because all the commercial stations have a right wing bias. If you want proof, ill happilly show it for you.
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Postby Bluesprite » Sun Apr 08, 2007 3:18 pm UTC

crazylucifer wrote:Here in Australia, a lot of right wingers believe that our publicly funded television station, the ABC, has a left wing bias. It actually doesn't. What it does have is the first program in the world to investigate media bias and unethical behavior, Mediawatch.
The main reason the right winger believe that our ABC has a left wing bias is because all the commercial stations have a right wing bias. If you want proof, ill happilly show it for you.


Are you suggesting it's unbiased?
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Postby cmacis » Sun Apr 08, 2007 3:47 pm UTC

All channels have some bias, but as long as everyone sees it tries to be unbiased and cater to all needs at the right times then it beats commercial programming where you don't get the mix.
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Postby space_raptor » Sun Apr 08, 2007 4:20 pm UTC

Bluesprite wrote:First sources have always been around.

Yeah, but I don't have time to get them. To me, that's what journalists are for. They interview people, they do research, and they report it to the public. I don't have time to go through crime statistics, or take polls, or read every speech that a politician puts out.

News organizations are becoming lazy. That and their standards seem to be dropping with regard to reliability of their sources and their own accountability. In particular TV news seems to be worried about reporting artificially created sensational stories, regardless of real impact or importance.

I'm not even suggesting they should be completely unbiased. I just want to get useful information, instead of the mindless tripe I see when I (rarely) watch the news.
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Postby crazylucifer » Sun Apr 08, 2007 11:30 pm UTC

Bluesprite wrote:Are you suggesting it's unbiased?

Yes, i am. It's the best news and current affairs station we've got. It goes after every single politician no matter what party they belong to. And they ask some very tough questions. None of the other networks do that.
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