The presence of systemic bias in news media coverage is usually called media bias. This involves the choice of news stories to cover and the content or tone of coverage. More subtle forms of media bias include the perpetuation of national, ethnic, racial and religious stereotypes. Much of the latter occurs "below the radar" of consciousness. For example few Americans recognize the hate hidden in "amusing" television advertisements using images of the non-Abrahamic religious Other. American television advertisements often treat Buddhism, Hinduism and New Age religious worship with contempt.
Perspectives of bias in news coverage vary widely around the planet. From the point of view of impoversihed majority in less developed countries, powerful news media in the developed countries on which they still partially depend is strongly biased towards the interests of rich industrialized countries. From the point of view of Arabs and Iranians, and Muslims generally, the news media is very strongly biased towards Christians and (disproportionate to their population in the world) Jews. From the point of view of many Jews, the media is biased against them and particularly against Israel. From the point of view of rich British and Americans, the world seems to blame them for many problems that, to their knowledge, they aren't involved in, and don't know anything about. All these views tend to be irreconcilable, and it's no better on the domestic front:
Conservative Ideological Dominance over American News Media
Conservatives often level a blanket acusation of liberal bias against American news media. Hence the expression SCLM or "so called liberal media." The reality is rather the opposite. While a majority of news reporters lean Democratic and liberal, most media source owners and their news editors lean heavily Republican and conservative. Although important exceptions among quality news sources like The New York Times and Washington Post exist, the content of the most Big Media news coverage is increasingly slanted toward conservative ideas and interests. News sources like NBC, ABC, CNN and especially Fox News serve as venues for conservative, Republican politicians and activists.
Examples of Conservative Media Bias
Editors Rewrite News Events
In January 1963 Associated Press, United Press International and Time editors in New York rewrite the news reports from their Saigon reports about the the battle of Ap Bac, turning a government rout into a government victory. James Landers. 2004. The Weekly War. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press. ISBN 0826215342. Pp. 43-44.
Pro-Israel Bias in U.S. News
News coverage by CNN and Fox News of the on-going low intensity war between Israel and Palestine consistently favors Israel. Both CMNN and Fox News have described the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Palestinian soldiers as a "kidnapping" while at the same time describing the capture by Israeli soldiers of 8 Palestinian Cabinet ministers and 34 Palestinian legislators of the democratically elected Palestinian government as "arrests." The word kidnapping carries the connotation of illegality while the word "arrest" acrries the connoatation of legality. Clearly, CNN and Fox News seek to convince viewers that Israeli miltiary operations are legitimate while those of the Palestinians are illegitimate.
Pro-Government Bias in War Coverage
On January 4, 2007, ABC News with Charles Gibson broadcasts a report about the Patriot Riders that begins by noting they were created to protect militiary funerals from protesters, but neglects to mention that they were anti-gay rather than anti-war protests. The anti-war movement is then smeared as being disrespectful of the grieving families of U.S. war dead.
Pro-Government Bias in Election Campaigns
News media in illiberal democracies often favor the ruling party over challengers. In Uganda the state owned television service devoted fully 80% of its 2006 election coverage to incumbent President Yoweri Museveni. David White. "EU criticises media bias in Uganda poll." Financial Times. 2-24-06.
Major U.S. news sources typically emphasize the interests of consumers when they report action by organized labor. During the August 1997 UPS strike, NBC's Mike Jensen stoked fears of price increases and service interruption in his reporting by saying, "When all this is over, shipping charges for packages are likely to go up...Another worry for the million-and-a-half customers who use UPS every day. For them it's only going to get worse for each trhe strike goes on." Source: Christopher R. Martin. 2004. Framed!: Labor and the Corporate Media. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801488877. Pp. 164-165.
Struggle Against Media Bias
First, write letters to the editor (LTEs) challenging bias. These may have more effect than you think, and may even get published.
Second, keep the blogosphere growing. The blogosphere is unfiltered, unaligned, and represents a challenge to corporate media like open source software does to the Microsoft hegemony.
Media contact and Letter To The Editor tool from Congress.org]
On the blogosphere, you can call out examples of media bias, and encourage the development of projects like Outfoxed. We can make it uncomfortable for journalists and editors to indulge in subtle bias, while at the same time respecting a free press.
Wikis like dkosopedia itself permit many views of a subject to be very closely examined, compiling many sources into one page for efficient reading. The Hurricane Katrina issue page is a very good example of this working.
There is an idea being developed called 3 minutes to better government that would require local TV news, where many people get their information, to devote time to covering local representatives in Washington. Most TV news only covers executive branch issues and their members.
Media Spin Incidents
- Daily Kos Diary: The Norah O'Reilly Factor, by BobcatJH, Thu Jul 06, 2006 at 09:02:28 AM PDT
One of the major proponents of the corporate media theory is Noam Chomsky.
- Media Watchdogs
- FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting)
- Sourcewatch, the Sourcewatch wiki by PRwatch
- Media Matters for America
- The Daily Howler
- Ad Nausea (Contacts for advertisers on Conservative Talk Radio)
- Media Research Center (group funded by the right-wing Scaife and Olin Foundations)
- Crooks and Liars
- The corporate media: who owns what
- International Media Democracy Day
- How to Empirically Confirm Media Bias
- Ongoing, effective campaign to alert advertisers to KSFO hate speech - Spocko's Brain
- Politmus This crowdsourced media monitor lets the people rate media fairness and accuracy.