Sunday, May 8, 2011

Media Bias is Rotting Our Brains

Brenda Evans

Keep the Opinions to Yourself

In some cases bias is easier to pinpoint than others. Glenn Beck and other extremely conservative media figures have disseminated information that was both derogatory and blatantly against President Obama. Right-winged blogs, radio shows and news networks all band together to discredit the then presidential nominee. Even now, many of these same outlets have given attention to the “birthers” that proclaim that Obama is not a citizen of the United States. Such unashamed bias is easy to spot, but that doesn’t make it acceptable for any person calling him or herself a journalist. The most important ethical standard in journalism and the first listed in SPJ’s code of ethics, is to seek the truth and report it. This not only requires one to be “honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information,” but also keeping personal opinions out of the story. Even a talk-radio show like that of Rush Limbaugh’s should be weary of spouting such disgraceful accusations and name calling towards Obama such as Messiah, a revolutionary socialist, “Osama Obama.” The obvious political divide at best has no place in serious journalism and at worse is feeding our nation misinformation.

Lies of Omission

I think in the NPR report Tompkins said it best, “"I tell my children there are two ways to lie. One is to tell me something that didn't happen, and the other is not to tell me something that did happen.” Just telling one side of a story is as good as not telling it at all. There is much to be learned in healthy debate of facts, but when debates get personal or ignore facts there is no benefit. Editing is an important aspect of journalism, but can also be dangerous as seen in the NPR case. Editing a story too much by rearranging information to create a new meaning or feeling is as untruthful as telling a blatant lie. Keep the editing simple and never create content that wasn't gathered.


With increasingly more people looking to news outlets that reflect their personal beliefs, a lot of information is lost. The "Going Beyond Fair and Balanced" article states that many outlets will refrain from reporting certain facts if they are unfavorable to their preferred political affiliation. This polarization leads to a crippled world view. Surrounding one’s self with like-minded individuals may be peaceful and easy, but it is not conducive to educating one’s self. The lack of diversity in media can very well lead to a fall in national intelligence and in my opinion; polarized and bias outlets are partially to blame.

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