Monday, September 21, 2009

A question of media bias

Dozens of people responded to my column in Sunday's paper about media bias. Some of them even appeared to have read it, and I thank them for their thoughtful and thought-provoking replies.
Many, though, e-mailed to say that I was blind to the media's (liberal) bias.
Here's a typical excerpt from one reader: "I was crest fallen after your assurance that journalist motives were as pure as the driven snow and that media's performance is not to blame for low public trust. There you have it folks, the problem is not us (media) but them."
And here I thought the column might upset fellow journalists because I said that there is bias in the news pages.
To wit, from my column: "That doesn’t mean there’s not bias, and it doesn’t mean journalists can discount Pew’s findings. There is some bias, intentional or not, and perception is as important as reality. We can’t control all the causes, but when 80 percent of the public doesn’t trust us, that’s our problem, like it or not."
Half the column spelled out facts about how we are seen as snakes by a majority of the public, and the other half pointed out that journalists need to recognize that and do something about it, by striving to be more objective.
You'd think more critics would have welcomed that idea.
So let's try this again, with a goal of The Observer getting valuable feedback. If you see something specific in the news pages (not the opinion pages) that you consider biased, let us know. E-mail me about it, with the story headline, the page number and the date it ran. We want to know.
-- Posted by Taylor Batten


Adam Butler said...

Mr. Batten, perhaps people are not looking only at political stories for places in the news section for bias and opinion is present. A few months ago I read this article(link below) by Joe Marusak about the Lake Norman Senior Center. He referred to it in the article as, "one of its(Lake Norman's) most precious resources," as though it were indeed fact. I emailed Mr. Marusak and we went back and forth a few times. He told me he was a columnist so I decided I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Regardless, even a small story like that began with an opinion from the writer. It's a small issue, especially in a story that isn't a big one but the opinion and bias isn't necessarily exclusive to political or government coverage.

Here's that link..

JAT said...

Uh, you sure about this, Taylor? Won't such specifics be confused with and dismissed as a "personal attack" on the writer?

First, off you already have a valid feedback mechanism in your comments sections -- read them and heed them, especially on stories having to do with local govt spending issues.

To wit, this streetcar news story was poked full of holes by comments.

But let me add another specific issue: No where does that story mention that the "cutting-edge technology" of battery-powered streetcars touted by city staff would be orders of magnitude more expensive than industry-standard tech and would still require a number of recharging stations along the route. The bleeding edge, battery-only option right now can only go about 6 miles without a recharge.

Not that any of these facts matter. You guys -- warning possible personal attack ahead -- have demonstrated repeatedly that you are just going to write what ever you want to write in order to advance certain issues you deem progressive -- transit, spending on public education, high marginal tax rates -- all while marginalizing your critics as unreasonable and impossibly biased themselves.

Karl said...

To ask the question of whether there's media bias begs the question whether the mainstream media gets it at all. When an overwhelming majority of Americans do not trust the news as it's reported and overseas newspapers are receiving 7x the number of Americans seeking out news stories (along with Fox News record viewership, trumping all of the Big 3 news outlets combined), the question should be one of whether the biased opinions reported as facts have caused a shift in American trust/viewership. There shouldn't be any question that there's bias given all of the polls and data that support it.

For a simple, recent perspective -- take a look at how the mainstream media (including our own Charlotte Disturber) reporting on Van Jones and ACORN. Most didn't even report on Van Jones and only when ACORN became such a firestorm did the Big 3 start to address it, albeit in a much more limited fashion compared to Fox News and even CNN.

What bothers me most is that Barack Obama now is considering a 'bailout' of our nation's newspapers. Because of their own mis-direction and journalistic compromise, yet another taxpayer is going to have to pay for 'the grand utopia' to which most of us don't subscribe to.

It truly sickens me the way our country has been influenced by the 'Progressives'.