The information about policies that the public needs to know should be truthful and free of bias as much as possible as these information shape public opinion and even electoral decision. The presentation of the factual and unbiased information about policies is most of the time the responsibility of media as politicians are subject to their political beliefs and stand on the specific issue. The media, as the Fourth Estate, should present this information in such a way there could be clarity and understanding between the government officials and the constituents.
There has been a lot of information published regarding biases to warn and inform the public of how they can absorb information with a more critical thought. Ana Costa, the author of the article entitled, What Biases the News of What We See and Hear, believes that biases in media can be found in five frames namely: literal and non-partisan concepts, neutral languages, fair phrases without defaming or degrading one of the debating policymakers, inclination of the presentation of information whether it siding more of the liberalist or conservatives, and temporal bias. Costa believes that the news organizations can be prone to bad news, commercial, and journalistic glory biases (Costa, 2012).
Rhetorica has the same perspective as Ana Costa. Aside from biases already mentioned by Costa, Rhetorica added other forms of biases which are visual, narrative, status quo, expediency and glory biases. It pointed out that biases are the inherent in the context of message and that the Journalists strive to be objective in the presentation of news due to the ethics of the profession. The strive for objectivity manifest in two ways, fairness among the sides of those concerned in a particular issue and the professional way of data gathering and information presentation in such a way that these are accurate, balance, factual, and complete. Rhetorica mentioned that the politicians are overtly biased due to their policies, parties, and ideologies (Costa, 2012).
Dan Shalley in his article entitled Secrets of Talk Radio revealed various media malpractices of broadcasters, Charlie Sykes and JefF Wagner. According to him, the two broadcasters use their influence to threaten politicians. They also apply a strategy of unique reporting at the expense of fair presentation of truths for business gains. The two broadcasters targets the uneducated white men as listeners although professionals such as lawyers doctors, businessmen, parents, clergy and others also listen to them.
Biases and mismanagement of information presentation to the public can be a chaos to a news organization. It can kill a program. A concrete example of this is the popular weekly broadcasting program during 1935-1946, The American Town Meeting of the Air, wherein debates and advocacies result to physical attacks and it experienced at least one libel case (University of Virginia, 2014).
Rush Limbaugh gained criticism after the winning of the President Barrack Obama in the elections due to his biases as a media practitioner. His critics describe Rush Limbaugh as the Head of the Republican Party due to his inclination on the party’s policies and advocacies (Vlex, 2010).
James Poniewozik of the Time Magazine mentioned in his article, Polarized News? The Media's Moderate Bias, stated that 4 8% of Fox's viewers perceived that the news organization is pro-liberalist, that it is a mouthpiece of the White House, while 17% believes that it’s pro liberal. Only 27% of its viewers perceived that Fox’s is a neutral news organization (Time, 2010).
. Similarly, the article of Bernard Gold entitled Liberal Media Bias- Most Americans Just Don’t Don’t Trust Them revealed that about 48% of the American viewers believe that the media organizations in the United States are pro- liberal while 15% says the media organizations are conservative. Only 37 of the American viewers believe they are neutral. These result to lower confidence to the news organizations (Goldberg, 2010).
Are they really biased?
This writer made a case analysis if the media organizations, particularly in the United States, are bias when presenting information and arguments about policies. The topic of analysis is the news article about Barrack Obama’s foreign policy failure in the United Nations published on March 2014. The news organizations that are studied as cases are the Fox’s News, Bloomberg, Aljazeera, and Weekly Standard.
The Fox’s news title heading for the said article was Obama’s foreign policy failure leads to disaster at UN (Byefsky, 2014). Fox’s spent six of the 22 paragraphs explaining the position of Russia on the said policy and spent of the rest articles reporting about the negativity and failure of Obama’s policy. It never allotted even a paragraph presenting the side of Obama and letting them explain themselves why such policy proposal failed and how the current administration would go about the said issue.
Bloomberg’s article of the said issues was entitled Russia’s Aggression Challenges Obama’s Policy. The article was straight news presenting the positions of both the United States and the Russia on the said issue. Both countries had the benefit of having fair space in the news article. The Bloomberg journalist also strived to be as factual and as neutral as possible (Gaouette, 2014).
Aljazeera, a Middle Eastern news organization, entitled its article about the policy; Obama talks lofty foreign policy talks. The title itself already connotes a bias of anti-Obama’s foreign policy which should not be a practice in Journalism. The journalist strived to be as informative as possible. However, the discussion on the impact of the foreign policy, focused on the Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria despite having worldwide telecast and online coverage. The article did not discuss the policy in relation to Russia’s perspective (Hill, 2014).
The Weekly Standard entitled its article Obama’s fantasy-based foreign policy. The heading itself already connoting bias by seemingly mocking Obama’s policy. It spent seven out of nine paragraphs explaining the Russia’s position and the seemingly criticism to Obama’s foreign policy (Hayes, 2014).
Based on the presented articles, we can conclude that biases the occur among the news organizations and they can be caused by the news organization’s political inclination like in the case of the Fox’s News and the Weekly Standard and country and regional affiliation like in the case of Aljazeera.
The case study also reveals that not all media organization are inherently biased. Bloomberg, for instance, was able present fairly the positions and views of both the United States and Russia and its story became as informative, as accurate and as in depth as possible. This suggests a hope that there can still be trusted news organization that can intentionally do a true public service.
It is up to the readers and viewers to discern which media organization that can serve them better. Such intelligent discernment can also be achieved through education of the corporate structure and ownership of the media and the relationship of the key principals to any government official. Some key analysis is whether the owner or key principals of the organization, in one way or another, have supported a politician or a political party.
Similary, the citizens should also be watchful whether the news anchor has business interests that can be favoured by a political party or has a kin in the government office. Such factors can affect the media’s reportage as they have more chances to report news in a way that will satisfy their hidden agenda.
The citizens should also be watchful of friendships. Some anchors and journalist has developed friendship with some politicians that they are willing to report information that are favouring them. Some have developed deep relationship with the government officials even before their careers.
It is also important to mind the office base of the news organization when watching international news. For example, an American organization can have a different perspective or story angle about the political and war crisis in the Middle East from the reportage of the Middle East-based news organization. Another example is the general perception of a certain country can result to a repeated choice of story about a certain country. For instance, the CNN would always show Mindanao or MILF report about the Philippines when there are other occurrences in the country, both good and bad.
The access for information is part of the human rights. In the case of viewers, they do not only have the right to have information but the right to receive unbiased, factual, and accurate information. The readers and the viewers are the important stake in the business of media and are also among the important sector that the media should tender a sincere public service. Credibility of the Journalist and the media organization is the key principle of information disseminator as journalism is truth finding and truth telling.
It is very important for a society to include the curriculum the basic principles of journalism so as to help them discern the reliable and truthful media organization from not. It is also very important to provide lectures on the social strata of the media organizations and ownership in relations to the government officials, business interests and partners, and intentions of profitability. A regulation that can help reduce the impact of profit-orientation among the media organizations can help the organizations to consistently report bias free and quality news.
Regulations that will also encourage readers and viewers to read and watch television focusing on content quality rather than the appeal on their wants and need for entertainment regarding media news report will be advantageous both for the news organizations quality and profitability wise and or the readers and viewers in terms of reception of knowledge and information. This in turn will help the government as this will lead to a more understanding between the government and the constituents. This will result to better policies that are public welfare motivated.
The nation is composed of different institutions and sectors. It will be advisable if each of the institution and sector will cooperate and do an honest service to its stakeholder. This is one of the best ways to resolve national and global conflicts.
Costa, Ana. February 17, 2012. What Biases Shape the News that We See and Hear. Prezi. Retrieved from http://prezi.com/uww_-k2tkita/what-biases-shape-the-news-that-we-see-and-hear/
2014. Media / Political Bias. Rhetorica. Retrieved from http://rhetorica.net/bias.htm
2014. America's Town Meeting of the Air. University of Virginia. Retrieved from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~1930s/Radio/TownMeeting/TownMeeting.html
Goldberg, Bernard, September 20, 2010. Liberal Media Bias- Most Americans Just Don’t Don’t Trust Them. Bernard Golberg Online. Retrieved from http://www.bernardgoldberg.com/liberal-media-bias/2/
2014. The age of Limbaugh: when politics and popular entertainment collide. Vlex. Retreived from http://law-journals-books.vlex.com/vid/limbaugh-politics-entertainment-collide-237098514
Shelley, Dan. November 17, 2008. Secrets of Talk Radio Truthout. Retrieved from http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/81082:secrets-of-talk-radio
Poniewozik, James. November 4, 2009. Polarized News? The Media's Moderate Bias. Time. Retrieved from http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1935096,00.html
Bayefsky, Anne. March 31, 2014. Obama's foreign policy failures lead to disaster at UN. Fox’s News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/03/31/obama-foreign-policy-failures-on-full-display-at-un/
Gaouette, Nicole. March 26, 2014. Russia’s Aggression Challenges Obama’s Foreign Policy. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-26/russia-s-aggression-challenges-obama-s-foreign-policy.html
Hill, Even, January 29, 2014. Obama talks lofty foreign policy talk. Aljazeera. Retrieved from http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/1/29/foreign-policy-stateofunion.html
Hayes, Stephan. March 17, 2014. Obama’s Fantasy-Based Foreign Policy. The Weekly Standard. Retrieved from http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/obama-s-fantasy-based-foreign-policy_784266.html