As long as news has been present there has always existed an element of bias. Bias is defined as a particular trend or inclination to favor one thing over another. This brings me to ask where today are we likely to see the most amount of bias reasoning? Politics. Now I will ask where do we see the most amount of politics? The news. Throughout my lifetime I have observed the news, but this past week I have paid even closer attention to the news which has led me to new conclusions that I will soon discuss. Therefore in my own politically independent way I will examine and explain the methods that news and media companies operate upon.
First and foremost media centers its attention on top figures. While that may be a no brainer there are actual reasons as to why this is. One being that the news has to make an appeal to its audience, the audience (meaning us), knows who is important and who is not. Therefore if the media shares information on people we know then the likelihood of that company’s success is greater. So not only is the media highlighting top figures for us, the audience, but it is also doing that in order to increase their approval rate. One thing to take note of is who the actual key figures are in this world, I do not simply mean celebrities, I mean political figures whose day to day actions affect our lives. For example, the presidential election is receiving a lot of attention from the media because Americans want to know who should be the next person to run our country. This is the time when news companies will stress upon different political issues revolving around the top candidates. For instance our English class under the direction of Dr. Trevor Hoag observed different media companies and found that certain news centers covered primarily topics and people it was biased towards. In particular Fox News had a tendency to cover more issues about Donald Trump because he is the leading republican candidate and Fox is a conservative news company. Meanwhile Salon News and Truth-Out News generated more information on Hilary Clinton because she is democratic and both websites have liberal views. The point I am trying to illustrate is that while we as the audience may pay attention to top figures, we must recognize that the information we take in is limited to only what news companies will show, therefore we must broaden our spectrum and focus on a variety of media.
Is it Fact Based or Opinion Based?
The main objective of a news company is to grab your attention, but how do they do that? Often times what media will do is “embellish” or raise questions in order to spark a debate. On September 5th, 2015 CNN published an article with the headline “Would Hilary be this bold today?”.
The article makes reference to a speech Clinton made while in Bejing that was on September 5th, 1996. The then first lady made her speech about woman’s rights and at one point stated “Human rights are woman’s rights … and woman’s rights are human rights”. Her words echoed and were heard all across the globe, at this point Clinton’s popularity skyrocketed. The article goes on to elaborate on her speech and say “It would set her on a path to a political future that would encompass a Senate seat, the State Department and could end back in the White House as the first woman president after a campaign heavily focused on gender”. What I take away is that CNN is trying to explain that without this speech Hilary Clinton would not be the successful woman she is today. By asking “Would Hilary be this bold today?” CNN is questioning her professional career and the accomplishments she has under her belt. Coming from an independent, I am not liberal nor conservative, therefore at this point I do not favor Clinton over other candidates, I would rather hypothesize that because I am an independent I can see more clearly the methods that CNN is taking to get more attention from their audience.
One last point I would like to touch on is the terminology that news companies use. Many if not all news networks makes a play on words in order to enhance the information they are debating or relaying to us, the audience. For instance MSNBC featured a story this morning on the fight against the use of fossil fuels. The headline reads “Another green group declares war”, yet the actual act of declaring war implies that Congress verbally stated that we as the U.S. are declaring war against another country. Unless this green group represents our government then I am going to assume that this is all a mere hoax. MSNBC broadcasted an interview with these folks that call themselves the 350, in this interview they address the future plans to drill in the Arctic.
The 350 has a goal of preventing any further importation or exportation of fossil fuels. In the short interview the speaker explains their methods that involve kayaking to form a blockade against the ships that work for the major gas companies i.e. Exon, BP, and Shell.
This group of activists closed the interview with a parade to help influence other activists to join their fight against fossil fuels. Throughout the duration of the interview there were a few moments of irony that I caught onto that perhaps MSNBC did not recognize. For example one of the activists who served to narrate the interview was featured onboard a ship that functions off the use of fossil fuels, which is the very element that this group is trying to eliminate. Another instance of irony was when the activists were preparing for their parade they were unloading trucks, SUVs, and cars which transported the materials they needed for the parade. Each truck, car, and SUV spotted were vehicles that run off of fossil fuels. In essence MSNBC featured an article using terminology that meant this group would declare war as well prevent the usage of fossil fuels, meanwhile these activists were seen in the interview reaping the benefits of fossil fuels.
Being an independent I can still form an opinion, but at the same time it allows me to see both sides to a story. News companies perform at a level suitable for their audience, meaning they center stories around top figures, question and debate certain events and actions, as well as exaggerate in order to make the news more exciting, all for us, the audience.