Freshman journalism and media bias

Subject: Freshman journalism and media bias
From: Tammy Hale <tammyh -at- FGM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 1995 23:50:25 -0500

Joe wrote:

"Please enlighten me on something, if Freshman Journalism requires a
"balance" as you state, why is the national media so obviously biased?"


Joe,

First of all, I think that it's common knowledge that a lot of the theory
we learn in college is not applied in the real world.

Second, I think the media are giving people what they want to hear.

I think prime time news boasts a lot more viewers than C-SPAN (which is
about as close to unbiased journalism as I can find right now--although I
don't believe journalism can be unbiased, but that's a different issue).
This viewing disparity happens because people are more interested in
hearing Connie Chung say that Newt Gingrich's mom said that Newt said that
Hillary is a b--. People tune into these inflammatory statements even
though the happenings on C-SPAN affect us more than who hates whom. In
short, we gobble up information we don't need and ignore the information we
do need. (e.g., no matter how pithy our technical documents are, most
people don't read them until they have to. I for one will spend 20 minutes
swearing at my computer before I reach for the Word manual.)

I believe that the Connie Chungs and Peter Jennings are reacting to market
pressure. The number one priority of networks is to sell their story. And
gossip sells. Why do you think tabloid news shows are so popular? If
people turned off prime time news and started reading and watching hard
news, then maybe high profile journalists wouldn't be such gossip hounds.
It's our own fault for watching that s--.

IMO, the prime time news programs do three things that get people to watch:

1. They hook us by scaring us to death ("Coming up: how you and your family
may be the victim of...").

2. They tell us whom to blame for our woes.

3. They assure us it's not our fault.

Prime time news viewers need a good class in technical writing to teach
them to spot and spurn fluff.

Sincerely,
Tammy
tammyh -at- fgm -dot- com


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