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The 7 - Current Events & Politics - Is a Bias toward one political slant OK for a journalist?
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AWArulz
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#1 Posted on 26.1.06 1316.51
Reposted on: 26.1.13 1317.08
I know. This isn't the "one Question" forum.

But... So I am talking with a good friend of mine who is quite far on the other end of the political spectrum from me. You may have noticed I take some more conservative positions on some topics. May have. My friend voted for Dennis Kucinich in the primary, cause John Kerry wasn't willing to move the party in the way he thought it should go.

So, I was mentioning that I had noticed some journalists had a heavy bias. I am not talking about commentators like, oh, Bill O'Reilly or Keith Olberman or either Hannity or Colmes, but straight newspeople. In my case, I was complaining about Katie Couric and how slanted I thought her reporting and questioning was. My friend said the same thing happened at Fox, although he later admitted never, ever watching it. I rarely do either, but I don't doubt it happens. It has some history. Cronkite was always pretty liberal and it occasionally showed, same went for Murrow, while John Stossell is pretty conservative (although I consider him mostly a commentator).

But the discussion we had was not: He is a lefty, he is a righty: But should new readers, journalists, anchors have an agenda, be allowed to have one. Or should they be reasonably impartial. I think impartial, because that is supposedly how newspeople have always been. But my friend says for them to show their bias, because they can. He tells me I would do it in that position (I would hope not), and that he certainly wood..

What do you think?
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DJ FrostyFreeze
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#2 Posted on 26.1.06 1353.25
Reposted on: 26.1.13 1353.44
That's a tough call. I was all set to say "As long as their bias doesnt effect how they report actual news events they are covering, I dont have a probelm if they decide to let me know how they feel about that particular news event. They're humans after all, not robots."

THEN I tried to think of a specific event where I have seen or heard a reporter do that, and I realized that even when I happened to agree with whatever bias they had, I was kind of annoyed when they dicided to tell me whether or not they agreed with/believed whatever GW had said that day (or whatever the case had been).
Sec19Row53
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#3 Posted on 26.1.06 1442.13
Reposted on: 26.1.13 1442.22
If they are reporting the news, no bias should be allowed to come into the story. If they are commenting on the news, then it's OK. HOWEVER, there needs to be a clear demarcation between what is reporting and what is commentary (e.g. change camera angles; insert "commentary" graphic on screen).

The biggest radio outlet in Milwaukee has, for a long time, told their personalities that personal opinion is not only welcome, but encouraged. There is a definite reticence from reporters to engage in that sort of banter on air with the personalities because it goes against what they do (i.e., report, not comment). I wish that were the case in all news outlets, but fear it is becoming quite rare.
Stilton
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#4 Posted on 26.1.06 1452.15
Reposted on: 26.1.13 1452.39
While I hardly think of Katie Couric as a hard newswoman, the issue may have less to do with the people reading and reporting the news than it is with the people who write the news for them to read, and even the people who sign the paycheques. If all you're doing is reading news off a teleprompter, you're not really interjecting your own opinion very much. How the writers write the news often comes down to how they are told to write the news from the people who own the station/network/whatever.

Even word choice can have a spin to it.

Let's take abortion as a topic (and let's please not turn this into a debate on Roe v. Wade), just as an example. A right wing station might call it, "Killing a fetus". A left wing station would call it, "A woman's right to choose". Both sides loading the wording with the emotional triggers of their conflicting ideologies. An self-consciously unbiased station would simply call it, "Abortion".

My preference is news with no spin. Dispassionate reportage is best.
Mike Zeidler
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#5 Posted on 26.1.06 1541.32
Reposted on: 26.1.13 1542.42
katie Couric, Matt Lauer, the people on CBS, and not so much Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer are not what you would call "straight newspeople" they host morning television broadcasts that have a specific news reader who is in a seperate location.

Think of it like your typical morning "madhouse" radio show. They comment on the news of the day, then toss to someone whose job is to report the news as dispassionately as possible. They then come back and do the weather, and go on from there.

These people just read what's put in front of them, and then spend 30 seconds trying to make it seem like they know what they're talking about.

As to the supposed liberal bias, you need to understand that TV is a youth oriented media, even if the presenters are getting up there in age, (Charlie and Diane are both in their 60s) the producers are usually 30 or so years younger. The younger you are the more liberal your viewpoint tends to be.

edit: I also think it's hilarious that more people don't complain about the conservative bias by some news presenters.

(edited by Zundian on 26.1.06 1542)
bash91
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#6 Posted on 26.1.06 1601.41
Reposted on: 26.1.13 1601.42
    Originally posted by Stilton
    My preference is news with no spin. Dispassionate reportage is best.


Let me know when you find such an animal because I'm certainly willing to argue that such an animal does not exist and hasn't ever existed. Every story is spun, simply by the choice to report it.

As an example, look at the ongoing "discussion" in regards to the Washington Post temporarily closing comments as a result of a column by their ombudswoman discussing Jack Abramoff.* I don't mean to start a war about Abramoff here, I'm simply using this as an example. Because Jane Hamsher decided to raise a real ruckus, the story took on a life of it's own. Is this objectively or qualitatively different from any other error of fact in a major newspaper? Probably not, but because it was chosen as a story by a reporter/blogger it becomes much a different story that now has much larger ramifications than a simple error.

Objective and dispassionate journalism is nothing more and nothing less than a fiction. It only looks objective because it sometimes aligns with our own biases.

Tim

*For the interested, you can find a lot more about said "discussion" at http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/01/24/DI2006012400817.html
http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/2006_01_15_firedoglake_archive.html#113779106602423866
http://www.buzzmachine.com/index.php/2006/01/24/the-ethic-of-interactivity/
Stilton
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#7 Posted on 26.1.06 1629.59
Reposted on: 26.1.13 1630.38
    Originally posted by bash91
      Originally posted by Stilton
      My preference is news with no spin. Dispassionate reportage is best.


    Let me know when you find such an animal because I'm certainly willing to argue that such an animal does not exist and hasn't ever existed.


I didn't say it existed. I said it was my preference.
DrDirt
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#8 Posted on 27.1.06 0930.36
Reposted on: 27.1.13 0930.51
Bash is correct. All news is biased, however, I would argue that within that bias, one can still be objective. Most reporting I see, hear, or read does a fair job of trying to be objective. The trouble is that the line between a "journalist" and talking head has been purposely blurred. Katie and the rest of the morning dreck are no more journalists than fly.
AWArulz
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#9 Posted on 27.1.06 1528.36
Reposted on: 27.1.13 1528.49
    Originally posted by DrDirt
    Katie and the rest of the morning dreck are no more journalists than fly.


You might say that, Doc - but that's now how Mrs Harper out in Omaha feels. She knows that Katie is her main link to the news and when she is interviewing, say, Bill Krystal and beating him up with leading question after leading question, then interviewing Mrs Clinton and tossing her changeups so Hillary can knock them out of the park, Mrs Harper knows who the bad guys are.

Wow, that was an impressively long sentence.
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