Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Media Bias 

One of my favorite blogs is on rhetoric and is called Rhetorica. It is here. Andrew R. Cline, the blogwriter and PhD is a student of media. Cline is deeply interested in the New York Times' admission of poor reporting on Weapons of Mass Destruction last year. He noted recently that it is a good example of embedded media bias. His essay on the subject should be required reading for PR practitioners and it is here. Note that his definitions of biases are not the same as liberals versus conservatives. They are fundamental and go to the essence of the business itself. He cites:

1. Commercial bias: The news media are money-making businesses.
2. Temporal bias: The news media are biased toward the immediate.
3. Visual bias: Television (and, increasingly, newspapers) is biased toward visual depictions of news.
4. Bad news bias: Good news is boring.
5. Narrative bias: The news media cover the news in terms of "stories" that must have a beginning, middle, and end.
6. Status Quo bias: The news media believe "the system works."
7. Fairness bias: Ethical journalistic practice demands that reporters and editors be fair.
8. Expediency bias: Journalism is a competitive, deadline-driven profession. Reporters compete among themselves for prime space or air time.
9. Glory bias: Journalists, especially television reporters, often assert themselves into the stories they cover.

These make a good set of explanations for clients and others who do not understand why or how the media work. They also serve as reminders for PR practitioners working with the media. Most of the biases are intuitive to any media relations specialist, but it is nice to see them listed. They could serve as a checklist for story development.


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