Bias has existed in the mass media for years. From politics to race, it can be argued that the mass media employs bias against one group in order to favor the other. News outlets tend to cater to one group of people that are classified as their “target audience.” There is also bias that tries to sways individuals into a certain ideal. This is particularly called media bias, which is used in every source of news. Selectivity and certain bias of news is inevitable because it can be impossible for a journalist to report on everything, however, some new outlets have used this to their advantage. This bias can have a significant influence on us as individuals as well.
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Media bias, as defined by Lumen Learning, “is the bias of journalists and news producers in the selection of events and stories that are reported, and how they are covered.” (Media Bias | Boundless Political Science) This can be classified as misrepresenting facts and/or suppressing facts. This can be dangerous when it is done in order to benefit one thing over the other. Media bias can be traced all the way to the invention of the printing press. Publishers would often cater to different social groups. In the nineteenth century, partisan bias in the newspapers was essentially the norm. The 1960s, the peace and love era, saw a rise in news that was geared more towards liberals. Times haven’t really changed and it is very clear that certain news is still in favor of certain groups. For the past few years, Fox News and CNN have been said to attract Republicans and Democrats, respectively. This stems from Fox News’ conservative values and CNN’s totally opposite liberal or more progressive values. Government influence can also play a huge part in media bias, because some counties are required to be highly censored and report on what the government allows. Examples of countries that have governments like this include North Vietnam and Burma. The different types of media bias include advertising bias, corporate bias, mainstream bias, concision bias and sensationalism. According to recent polling by Gallup, 62 percent of Americans believe that the news is biased and the other 44 percent believe it is inaccurate. Less than the majority say they can’t think of a news outlet that reports the news objectively.
During the recent pandemic, bias about the virus Covid-19 has really been broadcasted, leading most people to not know what is true and what is not.. The public health students at Columbia University arranged a workshop where they “learned how history repeats itself: pandemics and virus outbreaks often lead to the stigmatization of marginalized populations.” (Coronavirus & Bias: Media Responsibility in a Time of Crisis | Columbia Public Health) This was concluded when it was found that most news outlets used bias that showed Asian Americans in a negative light; Forbes and the New York Post published articles with pictures of Asian people while talking about the Covid-19 virus. This bias has increased discriminatory attitudes towards Asians since it has circulated that the virus may have come from Wuhan, China. There have been claims that Covid-19 has also brought about ideological bias. At one point, the virus was considered the same as the seasonal flu. A few media outlets may have covered details about the virus while others may have bypassed those same details. This is a form of bias called gatekeeping bias. Also, there are people, mostly conservatives, that think that the media has exaggerated death rates and that the virus in itself is a conspiracy. They believe that the Covid-19 coverage has a “liberal” bias attached to it.
Some news sources have also been biased towards protesters during the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. The public believe that the media has leaned more toward law enforcement in its stories, covering up police violence at the protests and misrepresenting facts. They seemed to highlight mostly the riots that occurred instead of the peaceful protests that were happening. This misleads the general public into thinking that all protestors are engaging in the riots and only destroying public property. The public also believes that the media is painting African Americans involved in the protest in a different light than Caucasians. The former is seen as being aggressive even though it is their right to engage in protests to march for the injustice they have faced. These wrong narratives of the protests now can be compared to the false narratives of the protests from the Civil Rights Movement. Protestors then were portrayed the same way. Different parts of the public have been fed different details so different opinions have been drawn. Social media has also played a part in creating some bias regarding this topic. Posts are shared and reposted and this helps shape people’s thoughts about this as well.
It is important to try to avoid bias, but since selectivity is inevitable it can be difficult. News sources cannot be completely unbiased so ways to try to overcome this media bias can be hard to come by but not rare. Media bias isn’t going anywhere so it is important for an individual to identify it and understand that it shouldn’t stop them from making their own conclusions or opinions. However, there are regulations to put in place that should be able to reduce this bias. Round tables, discussions where a diverse group of people voice their opinion on an issue, can be effective in getting each point of view across. Questions asked during the round table should be non-prejudiced in nature and comments should be neutral. This would help all individuals and their ideals to be heard while engaging in a fair debate. Presidential debates with opposing parties, in my opinion, are great examples of round tables when done right. They give the viewer an insight into each candidate’s ideals. Another way to reduce media bias is to make sure a story is accurate. Fact checking all the elements of a story should be an essential priority of a journalist in order to be fair and portray each party in a positive light.
Media bias will always exist in some shape or form. Since it has been a part of our culture since the beginning of this country, it can never surely go away. To flatten the curve, journalists should practice integrity and try their best in reporting accurate facts even if they cannot cover every single detail. Our job as individuals is to take what is being given to us and formulate our own judgement. One’s opinion shouldn’t based solely on what the news reports.
Media Bias For Many Years. (2021, Apr 08).
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