Do the media both print and broadcast report fairly? What effects false media cause?
It is hard to argue that information can be viewed as the key to awareness. Apparently, information is empowered to grip the attention of its recipients. Once it managed to do so, the addressees begin the process of its procession. At the moment one gets a piece of news one learns something new, i.e. gets to acquire awareness. Nowadays everyone is enabled to achieve the information he or she needs and the ways to do it almost boundless. There is even no special endeavor necessary to gain the piece of news one is interested in since information seems to be omnipresent. The media provide everyone with news all over the world and perform this function in a very smart way however. A thorny question of fairness the news is supposed to be endowed with arises. Indeed, we are all the participants of mass media communication, being either the creators of news or its recipients – the audience in quest of truth. However, how much truth we get via media is an issue to dispute about.
Very well, one may claim – print and broadcast media surrounds us everyday and thus we become abreast of the happenings all over the world. Still, many may expose the usefulness of media to doubt and would have the right to do so. The matter is that nowadays sources of information be it printed version or broadcasting are said to contain lots of not properly verified data thus causing perversion of readers’ perception about the events and situations they become to be aware of by means of media. After all, it’s no wonder that human factor in representation of news is always present. The perspective from which an event may be seen can to a large extent influence the opinion and change the standpoints of the addressees the news is leveled at. In this very connection it’s relevant to touch the question of bias the media is so much considered to possess.
The notion of media bias emerges to denote journalists’ and news producers’ prejudiced coverage of this or that event. To make it clear, any news in its full-fledged appearance as the readers or viewers may get it goes through the thorough procession. What is more, ‘media bias’ stands for the encompassing and widespread partiality, rather than a journalist’s individual perception and analysis. Owing to the fact that to cover all events is impossible, we may state that selective approach suggests itself. Obviously, such selectivity would be reflected in the content of the news presented.
Thereby, in some countries the media bias is tightly tacked with censorship, patent or implicit, that is the governmental influence which can inflict much preconception on media. In addition, it would be the way of a fool to deny the huge impact of market which results in biased character of news. Such case is to a large extent stipulated by the private ownership of news sources, preferential approach in choosing staff and the target audience and the influence of advertisers. Think only, 95 % of all media space belongs to five grand companies such as Vivendi Universal, Time Warner, Walt Disney, VIACOM and News Corp which monitor and coordinate people through not only television as such (Mass Media Influence on Society). Moreover, they comprise the sphere of entertainment, news broadcasting, programming, even electronic media and software. Previously, the sphere of mass communication was designated by more varied and numerous companies, but later they have undergone the process of merge to comprise now just a few which have strong potentials to shape the public opinion and spread the beneficial information. So, supposedly to talk about the fair reporting is out of place.
The most widespread cases of media bias take place in connection with the politics, either the adherent or opposition sides. Thus, those interested in besmirching this or that political party or candidate resort to tricky mechanisms of media influential power. On the whole, the issues constituting the notion of ‘bias media’ can be viewed as bias subcategories which include advertising, mainstream, corporate and sensationalism bias, each accounting for its own characteristic features. The appropriateness of uncovering these issues in discussion about the extent of media fairness is explained by the necessity to elucidate and trace the cause-effect interrelation in regard to the question of fair reporting. So, undoubtedly media do not report enough. About this signifies the existence of the above mentioned subcategories which deserve to be shed light on.
Take, for instance, advertising sphere which is sure to act in its interests which eventually leads to the biased presentation of information – thorough and tilted selection of events and stories. The marketing strategy of advertising companies is aimed at persuasion of their intended audience and the media is the leverage by means of which they manage to captivate our minds. Regarding the corporate bias, it is concerned with privately owned media corporations which, as was previously pointed out, inevitably foist the policy they pursue. A rather seemingly neutral position of reporting refers to the mainstream bias which actually relieves the news source of any responsibility since what is reported is not peculiar but similar to what other report and thus nobody is offended or slandered. The sensationalism bias is prone to attribute exaggerated rates to uncommon events in comparison to common ones distinguished by more frequency as, for example, air accidents over car crashes etc.
Therefore, it becomes clear that the news we get by reading a newspaper, listening to the radio, watching TV or searching through the internet space must be exposed to our own rigid and demanding analysis. It is even more the need to reconcile to the fact that media is not fair rather than to fight against bias. The media bias is studied in universities of journalism and by numerous watching groups to reveal the differences in reporting connected with covering certain issues marked by bias. There was held a special poll dedicated to the revealing of interrelation between the news source and the misinterpretation with regard to the Iraq war. The data gathered by interviewing the respondents contained information about how they perceived the statements about the Iraq war which were false. In addition, the participants of the survey were asked about the initial source of news such as CBS, Fox News, NBC, CNN, ABC or print sources. In result, the poll demonstrated that the prevailing number of Fox audience was much more prone to have misleading conception about the war. According to Stephen Kull (PIPA director), “While we cannot assert that these misconceptions created the support for going to war with Iraq, it does appear likely that support for the war would be substantially lower if fewer members of the public had these misperceptions.”
However hard may it be to counteract the unfairness the media is marked by, it is still significant not to neglect the fact and let it get aggravated. Thus, not indifferent was the RAMSI Special Coordinator who called for media to report fairly. He underlined the need in fairness since the reports devoid of it bring more opaqueness rather than elucidation. Eventually such reporting to his words leaves ‘more questions than answers.’
Moreover, at the annual RAMSI Media Encouragement award presentation Graeme Wilson expressed his discontent with such course of the matter: “There have been occasions when I have read or heard a report that covers only one side of an issue”. He also focused on frequent cases when the other side of a question is not thoroughly or even at all verified by reporters and claimed it has resulted in readers and listeners obscure perception of the matter – they are left with more questions and do not get desirable truth. He pointedly indicated “Instead of your readers and audiences being left with these questions, it would be better if you, the journalists, were asking those questions yourselves and doing your very best in the time available to find the answers.” His position is full of indignation and the wiliness to underline the importance of high quality reporting and is really worth paying attention to. We can’t but agree with the words that news coverage requires scrupulous and detailed analysis before being presented to the recipients: “I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to reflect carefully on your responsibility to provide balanced reporting and to make sure, while preparing your reports that you are actively looking for what might be missing, for what else people might want to know about the particular issue you are covering.”
“Success has always been a great liar” (Friedrich Nietzsche). Under the influence of the interested sides in pursuit of business profit, desirable public acknowledgement, political victory and dominance the media becomes to acquire more lies, skillfully veiled and presented. So, the only useful advice for us, the addressees of information, is to be vigilant and by no means ignorant since “All men have eyes; but few have the gift of penetration” (Niccolo Machiavelli).
- Mass Media Influence on Society, from http://hubpages.com/hub/Mass-Media-Influence-on-Society
- Media urged to report fairly (2010, May 10), from http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/5628-media-urged-to-report-fairly
- Media Awareness Network. Media issues, from http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/violence/violence_debates.cfm
- Media Monitoring Methodology, from http://aceproject.org/main/english/me/med02c01.htm
- Shanmugam to the press: report fully and fairly, but remember this ain't America (2010, November 6), from http://journalism.sg/2010/11/06/shanmugam-on-the-press/