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August 12, 2007

Journalistic Bias

Filed under: Uncategorized — lisoosh @ 2:00 pm

I just want to be absolutely clear. When I wrote in the previous post about the weaponization of journalists I did not intend to imply intentional journalistic bias. Rather to indicate that while journalists aim for balance, that goal is frequently difficult if not impossible to acheive and that it would probably be better to be honest about the limitations up front. The previous BBC documentary is a perfect example, some statements come across as factual when in fact they represent the point of view of the interviewees.

Of course, access dictates this to some degree. Journalists in Iraq who are embedded with the army, by their very location, can do no more than present Iraq from the point of view of the army, they can’t show the life of the poor in Sadr City, or and in depth look at the Jihadis. This does not make the reporting bad, just limited. And it is important to show that. Many people seem to think they can show the “real story in Iraq” in a few pages. Is that possible? There are so many stories, from so many perspectives, I would suggest not. The “real story” depends on who you are and what your goals are.

Balance too can be an illusion. A recent Newsweek article on Global Warming pointed out that in attempting to be balanced, most outlets were giving more weight to those who debate it than their numbers warrented. Articles will frequently claim that “some” scientists dispute the evidence. What isn’t clear is that thousands of scientists back the theory that humans are adding to global warming. The scientists who dispute it number in the tens, most aren’t climate specialists, and of those who are half of them are paid serious money by Exxon Mobile and the coal industry. The goal of balance backfires.

Same goes for “intelligent design” presented as an alternative scientific theory to evolution. But Intelligent Design isn’t a scientific theory, it is a matter of faith. Trying to provide balance has actually strengthened a fallacious argument.

I don’t want to criticize journalists here. Most do a good job with what they have. Some risk life and limb in order to inform the world of important and sometimes earth shattering events. And they should be lauded for it. A great deal are prevented from telling the stories they want to because the public has no patience or interest in them.


1 Comment »

  1. While you are right that the in depth look at the Jihadis is not a topic developed too well by the media, cutting one’s head off may interfere with one’s typing, and I can see where some journalists may be uncertain about this kind of in-depth investigation.

    Not that Jihadis are keeping themselves to a vow of silence, they are quite open about their goals in most cases…

    Comment by SnoopyTheGoon — August 20, 2007 @ 3:05 am

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