Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Language Driven Bias

Nick Niehaus

It is something that we are taught constantly throughout our education in the J-School, objectivity objectivity objectivity. So why is it that we are constantly seeing the the complete opposite whenever we turn on the tv for our political news?  Is this the new type of journalism that we are seeing, or is this just one small blip on the timeline of journalism where it is like this?

I have only seen this type of journalism trending just in the past recent years. Never before have I had to worry about selecting a news outlet that would be the best one for me to watch and get my information from; but that was the past and today has changed.

I have been told before that there will always be a "formula" for how to write any single news story no matter what it could be about.  But from the differences of articles we see from different outlets about the same exact story proves what I have been told to be false in today's political journalism world.

Obviously, no two different news outlets are going to have the same exact title and same copy within the story; but it is interesting to see the type of language that it used in different news stories to almost say the same exact thing as another, but take on a different meaning simply because of that language. 

Language is KEY.  We see it all the time now, the news story that takes on a whole different meaning from another stemming from the language that will push their political agenda.  Sometimes unclear however, there is normally an influence backing the language used in certain different outlets articles.

A good example of two different outlets covering the same story:

              The New York Times

               "Iraq forces suspension of U.S. surveillance flights

               Iraqi fighter jets threatened two American U-2 surveillance planes, forcing them to return to                 abort their mission and return to base, senior U.S. officials said Tuesday."


              USA Today

              "U.N. Withdraws U-2 Planes

              U.N. arms inspectors said Tuesday they had withdrawn two U-2 reconnaissance planes over                Iraq for safety reasons after Baghdad complained both aircrafts were in the air                                      simultaneously."

See the difference?

You could be asking, where is the political bias that drove these two different news outlets to choose this kind of language when covering the same story?  And yes, it might be unclear from time to time, but there is no denying the ability of outlets to be able to tell the same story in a completely different way. 

There are many things that can influence bias, not just politically, but even geographically.  Geographic bias is something that I notice in sports journalism today.  More and more journalists are now hired to cover a specific team rather than a handful of teams from the same sport or conference.  What this does is create an association between you and the team you cover. 

Done "correctly" (I put that in quotes because of the unknown status of what is correct anymore) the reader should feel as if the writer is a third-party source, someone completely unbiased giving clear points that in no way is considered "rooting or cheering" for the team.

But that's not exactly how it is anymore.  The language behind certain sports journalists has created more of a fan aspect to the reader.  Blogs have become very popular recently, and a lot of them stem from the idea of writing about teams you are a fan of.  More and more readers today are turning to these types of blogs where they know whoever they are reading from is a fan of the team they are writing about.  Although it may not be seen as important as the political bias we see throughout different news outlets, it is still interesting to see how bias still plays a major role in sports journalism.

So the question I ask myself:  Is this what journalism has turned into? One with readers knowing the type of bias they will be divulging into when reading a certain outlet? Or is this just one era politically where bias driven journalism is going to be evident?

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