Sunday, December 7, 2008
Check out these following Web sites and discover much more about the reality of news bias --it raises many points and truths about the type of journalism we need to avoid:
News Bias Explored
Bias in the News
Fairness and Accuracy
Media Awareness Network
And my personal favorite, which requires a download but is so worth it and pretty funny--
Spinspotter shows specific instances in articles that display significant bias.
I learned it is often difficult to investigate and find the bias components of stories or photos, but following some certain guidelines and knowing what to look for makes it much easier and actually quite amusing.
Since our group may not be here as often, if anymore, to help point out the most obvious bias in news, you now know where to go and learn about doing it yourself--especially the future journalists in our class or those who are simply honest citizens wanting fair and accurate news.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Delicious founder Joshua Schachter and technologist/blogger Any Baio have created a new GreaseMonkey script that displays the political orientation of blogs and news sites on the aggregator site Memeorandum. GreaseMonkey is a Firefox extension that allows users to customize the appearance and functionality of Webpages.
Using an algorithm that scores every blog on Memorandum based on linking activity, this new script colorizes the Website. Those who install the GreaseMonkey script will now see Memeorandum in shades of blue and red. Liberal-leaning blogs are blue and conservative-leaning blogs are red. Darker colors represent stronger biases.
These colors are a reflection of bloggers' linking activity; they may not always represent personal views or biases (liberal bloggers often link to conservative sites and vice-versa). However, this script eliminates the arduous task of reading blog after blog on Memeorandum to find one consistent with one's own views. But then again it could fuel peoples' tendency to avoid dissident view points, which for obvious reasons inhibits intelligence. None the less, this GreaseMonkey script, along with Microsoft Blews (see my previous post) is evidence of an emerging form of aggregation intended to help people identify political biases.
To install this application, visit Andy Baio's blog at http://waxy.org/2008/10/memeorandum_colors/
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In doing my bias research this week, I found pictures that took me by surprise on how media gets away with the slant in not only their stories, but also photos.
For instance, here is a picture dated October 18, 1962 showing President Kennedy. Click here to view. It is interesting to see what they did with the photo in order to create a fabrication of the reality of the situation. Read the caption and the following explanation. Of course if the public knew what was really going on at that meeting the nation would have been scared out of their mind, but the picture was put with an article having nothing to do with that aspect and made it seem more comforting to the public eye.
Also, go to this site to see more "pictures that lie" and reveal that looks really can be deceiving. I think it is amazing to see how drastic some of the alterations of the photos are on that page, from something so little as making a person look tan to a more significant thing like incorporating a large object not originally there, such as a soldier. We have Photoshop to thank for most of the deceiving pictures.
Now we really know to never judge a book by its cover, or in this case never judge or trust an article based on its image or artwork!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I'll start off by saying that this post will not be like others seen on The Unbiased Tabloid. Instead of pinpointing and criticizing bias in news coverage, I'd like to take an opportunity to praise the absence of bias that would have likely been staggering in amount had it been present in this article.
Last week, the court in Thailand decided to oust former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and dissolve his party after months of protests by the People's Alliance for Democracy, an anti-government coalition.
Today, there is an article on The Nation, Thailand's leading English news site, titled "Forget me not: Somchai Wongsawat." If you haven't yet known, the former PM was forced to resign after being found guilty of electoral fraud. I agree that he has been unseated anyway, and that we shouldn't go back blaming him over and over again, instead the country should move on and resolve the chaos created after a long period of protests. But the article appears to be too "generous" with Mr. Wongsawat. It seems like the author is trying to help Mer. Wongsawat save the last bits of his wounded reputation.
"...the dissolution of his party had freed him from duty, paving the way for other responsible people to take over the country's reins.""...he had worked to the best of his ability right up to his last day in office."
"I can do charity work, and don't need any authority to do the job,' Somchai said."
About his wife, Mr. Wongsawat said: "She has supported me since we married. She would never leave me. I know she supports and encourages me all the time. I also support and encourage her all the time. We don't need to say this to each other."
Most of the media in Thailand is government-censored, including The Nation. Hence it is surprising that some of the news would play favor towards the government, even when that government is already dissolved. Even if the government does something wrong, the mainstream media would not report facts and information that overtly put the government in the awkward position. They would say things that don't sound wrong and opinionated to save the face of the government.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
This is not so much an article of biased media report, but it is closely related to what we discussed in class a while ago about the importance of keeping pace with modern technologies. We talked about how technologies such as RSS feeds or SMS are importance to journalists to bring the news to the public asap. Not only journalists, but also terrorists, are utilizing new technologies. I found an article on www.news.com.au about how terrorists in the Mumbai attack over the weekend have been using Blackberry to keep updated with news, domestic as well as international, since the government cut all cable TV feeds into the buildings.
They managed to attack the Chatrapati Shivaji railway station, Cama Hospital - a charitable hospital for women and children, Cafe Leopold - a common hangout place for tourists, Taj Mahal and the Oberoi/Trident Hotels, a Jewish center which also houses visiting Israelis.
Besides standard weapons and tools such as automatic weapons, grenades, fake identity cards and credit cards, connection with insiders of the hotels...the most important weapons, according to www.new.com.au, were " humble mobile phones and internet technology" - Blackberrys. This was totally unexpected by the anti-terrorist forces. They could cut cable lines to the hotels, but how would they block the terrorists' internet access?
The use of Blackberrys provides the terrorists with a major advantage in a battle like this: knowing their enemies. They gain access to public reaction of the event on a global scope. They are updated of the political situations. They have eyes everywhere. These are major strengths compared to conventional terrorist attacks.
After all, these terrorists are just like one of us, who are familiar with and knowledgeable about the tools we use in our everyday lives. Just like a journalist needs to know the tools available to his job, the terrorist needs to know the tools available for him to achieve his goals.
On the first day of the attack, I also got to watch a video on CNN of a journalist reporting to CNN from a hotel room. I don't know what happened to him after that, whether he survived or not. But one thing for sure, he had helped the public gain insight about the situation, a view from an insider, a person who was right at the spot, one whose faith was still undecided.
It's hard to say whether technology helps life for the better or worse. It assists people in carrying out good acts just as much as destructive ones. It's just the matter of who uses it more efficiently. If our enemy uses it well, it's our job to understand the technology and think of ways to override it.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The story begins like this...
"The hot-headed teen hunk who romanced a teacher nearly twice his age may love cameras on the catwalk, just not on the sidewalk.
Runway Romeo Joshua Walter - whose steamy affair with a Queens teacher led to her being fired - had multiple foul-mouthed meltdowns Tuesday as he shoved a TV reporter and tried to smash a camera."Understandably, The New York Daily News is NOT the most reliable source for news. With a reputation for tabloid-y stories, the Daily News walks the fine line between respectable news coverage and gossip tall tales.
In this particular story (of an underage minor and a New York State teacher) the reporters tend to exaggerate the importance of certain details. For instance, "Salamino was 34 and a second-grade teacher at PS 121 when she started sleeping with the 17-year-old Walter, who did not attend a single class at Bryant High School in the 2006-07 school year because he was catwalking all over the world."
Certainly if this story was covered by the Associated Press the term "modeling" would substitute "catwalking all over the world" while "sleeping with"would be replaced by "intimate relationship."
Another instance where the choice of vocabulary makes me doubt the legitimacy and actual training of the reporters is the following sentence, "Now 37, Salamino was canned last summer after being found guilty..."
Since when does the word "canned" replace "fired" in a news story. Not once have heard the term "canned" used in a news setting and I was surprised to read it in the New York Daily News.
If this story had been published on "Page Six" or even in the Op/Ed section, I would not be analyzing it's validity. However, the story was placed under the "News" portion of the website.
Finally, at the bottom of the news story "journalists" Martinez and Yaniv included this sentence, "The United Federation of Teachers and the Department of Education declined to comment on the pending case."
This last sentence bothers me most of all. Instead of including at least one credible source in the beginning of the story, the journalists covering this story placed the Department of Education last. In the pyramid of importance in news coverage, the authors of this story placed the Department of Education at the bottom. Regardless of whether this source chose to comment or not, the fact of the matter is the reporters deemed the Department of Education unimportant.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE WRITTEN BY OREN YANIV AND JOSE MARTINEZ DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS PUBLISHED ON Tuesday, November 25th 2008, 9:58 PM
Sunday, November 23, 2008
This is not the typical Unbiased Tabloid blog post. It doesn't analyze any media messages nor does it expose any bias. Instead, it serves to inform you of an innovative news aggregator that identifies the political orientation (or bias) of news articles.
Microsoft Blews is a software program in development that uses political blogs to categorize news stories as either conservative or liberal. These categorizations are based on the number of "right" or "left" blog links to a story. Blews also determines the "emotional charge" present in the blogospheres' discussion of the news topic.
"BLEWS achieves this goal by digesting and analyzing a real-time feed of political-blog posts, " says Microsoft.
This feed is provided by the Live Labs Social Media platform.
In addition to identifying the "political orientation" of news stories, Blews strives to create a more balanced view, with “see the view from the other side” functionality. This enables a reader to compare different views on the same story from different sides of the political spectrum.
Blews could be highly useful in informing political perspectives. It could be the first in a number of increasingly advanced aggregators with the ability to determine the ideological basis of news stories, and sort them on that basis. Or it could flop. What do you think?
Friday, November 21, 2008
Perusing this week's news articles from various media outlets, I noticed something particularly interesting, yet unsurprising; Fox News has practically ceased criticizing now President-elect Barack Obama. Key word: practically.
Despite clear indications that the network's avoided its usual agenda-setting (because of Obama's overwhelming victory), bias is still evident. Take the lead of the article Obama's Cabinet Picks Heavy on Washington Experience for example:
"For months on the campaign trail, Barack Obama promised to bring change to Washington. But now that he's president-elect, his first potential Cabinet picks indicate that he may bring more years of Washington experience to his administration than Bill Clinton or George W. Bush did."
Obama promised change. He didn't promise inexperienced Cabinet members. Suggesting that picking experienced Cabinet members is somehow contradictory to a policy of change is either stupid or biased. Something tells me it's the latter.
Who the experienced individuals are is the subject of interest, or at least it should be. Obama picking individuals who served or held views consistent with the Bush Administration would be cause for criticism. But this is not the case.
In fact, he seems to be keen on veterans of the Clinton Administration, naming Rahm Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff. Emanuel was a leading strategist in the efforts to institute universal health care during Clinton's presidency.
To be fair, the lead is the only blatant bias in the article. Fox did include several quotes from Russell Riley, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs. These include the following:
"[Clinton administration veterans] participated in a presidency that is viewed to have its accomplishments and was viewed as well run."
"The argument that Obama people would make ... it's possible to rely on people who know how the levers are pulled, but move it in a different direction than the last eight years."
Thursday, November 20, 2008
(Click headline for link to article)
OK, it is now post-election time and we can congratulate President-elect Barack Obama for really "Baracking the vote!" I am sure we can also come to a consensus that the 2008 election was quite eventful, full of surprises, and of course, dramatic as ever. During the election we saw SNL, MAD-TV and many other satirical productions of the events that led up to the final vote. Even after the election, some people just can't let go of the comedic drama. ABC News broke out a recent story about an inevitable movie for the 2008 election.
This article is not bias based on the dictionary definition of the term, but it definitely offers a slanted approach centered on the election being more humorous and amusing than fundamental. This whole idea of making a new movie, "Election 2008: The Movie" seems a bit too far fetched. Granted I found myself laughing while reading the article, I realized how inpractical it was with the point it made. Not only does it offer a fabricated illustration of the recent elections, but it mirrors more parodies that were already revealed on Late Night shows as previously mentioned.
I found the cinemark idea to offer a more satirical idea of the realistic events and would actually take away from the seriousness of the election. Moreover, the movie would display a mockery and ridicule of the candidates involved, such as Senator John McCain, whom the critics mention Ed Harris as a prospective actor for this part and regarding Harris' intended role, say: "I'm sure he can be made to look older."
Most notably of course, they discussed the proposal of Tina Fey playing Governor Sarah Palin, which is no surprise since that was a main focal point of mainstream media during the election.
As for the other participants, it was interesting to read the bogus suggestions for the cast characters such as Barack Obama (Will Smith), Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Cindy McCain, Oprah (by Oprah), Joe Biden, George Bush and we couldn't forget the infamous "Joe the Plumber."
Although I agree that this past election was much different than any others and encompassed many extremes thus making it quite amusing, I would not advocate it as a blockbuster comedy because of its intense distortion of reality.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Are suburban singles destined to be alone? Does it mean that since they do not live in a hip, bustling city, they are completely out of the loop when it comes to finding a "mate?" According to this article entitled The Best Cities For Singles on www.forbes.com, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!"
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It's one thing to report on a major company's financial blunders and giving explanation to why this may have occurred, but it is completely different when the reasons for the fall of a business are not supported by substantial evidence. A reporter's job is to reduntantly use the phrase "he/she said" after any statement that relfects a decision or action not already universally known. Throughout this article about Circuit City's bankruptcy, the writer refers to the issue as results of lack of management or poor customer service; however, she does not cite any sources to back up her arguement. In fact her only two sourcces do not even reflect on any of the issues she raises in the article about why Circuit City busted.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
While flipping through the channels Sunday afternoon, I came across a show I had never heard of before, called "The Pick-Up Artist" on VH1, so I decided to tune in. Granted, I don't watch much TV anymore, since I am taking three film classes this semester, my DVD player has been getting all the attention, so I'm sure I have been one of the only people in the dark about this show. This article on vh1.com provides more information, including a summary and links about the series. For those not familiar, the premise of the show is based on transforming eight "socially awkward nerds" into the "Master Pick-Up Artist." The host, Mystery ("former nerd turned best-selling author and ultimate pick-up artist") and his crew teach the guys a lesson about how to talk to/appeal to women and then send them off on little adventures to a bar or other social arenas to try out their new skills, or lack there of. Based on each guy's performance, there are elimination rounds and those who aren't making progress are told "Game over."
Hindsight vision is 20/20. How appropriate that this video is posted the day after Obama is made president elect. While the majority of attacks come from FoxNews, I was surprised to see MSNBC included in the bash-fest. I find it appalling that news sources allow this kind of false information to be leaked into the airwaves influences the fragile minds of young voters. Yet, who am I to complain now. As I said before, hindsight vision is 20/20 and while I hope these news pundits have been reprimanded or even fired, Barack Obama is our next president.
The video exclusive, "Choosing a President," narrated by NY Times reporter, Katharine Q. Seelye, reveals a truly one-sided view of the presidential candidates and their journey through the election process to post election today. It is clear to me that she narrates the video from a Democratic perspective by using sarcastic tones and impliciations. The beginning of the video traces their campaign movements and what supporters have said in their praise. It is not until the narrator begins to speak that the video turns into a biased history in Obama's defense.
The video is split into 3 chapters that describe the campaign trail. Chapter one focuses on the political parties involved and their backgrounds, two regards the candidates, their views and movements and three's focal point is the voters.
Her first statement when tracking the candidates on their trail describes Senator McCain as "unconventional and freewilling" whereas she considers President-elect Obama as "traditional and crafty." Granted the terms unconventional and freewilling do not necessarily connotate a negatvie meaning, when you compare the two sets of qualities for the men, it is evident that the story reflects a more positive image of Obama than McCain. (This video was posted prior to the election, thus before Obama's victory.)
As the video progresses to map their trail, she gives McCain less appeal as a presidential candidate and is more aggressive to point out his faults and weaknesses. Yet, when she refers to Obama she is adamant on poitning out his strengths as a future president. She also made it clear that she does not support the "unpopular" President Bush in his efforts either.
The narrator puts emphasis on certain phrases she uses to describe Obama and McCain, usually indicative of negative feelings toward the latter of the two. She also uses very sarcastic tones (around the 7:30 minute point) when she said "McCain bounced from theme to theme until he finally settled on one," and "Obama remained consistent," then later (around 11:15 point) "he made a maverick move" regarding his choice of Palin for running mate.
Although there is some positive regard of McCain during his supporters' interviews, the narrator indicated her lack of support for him, and in Obama's favor for his policies as well as the way he has handled the campaign trail thus far.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Every sentence of the ad, from headline to content, is a great example for a textbook about propaganda. Hardly can you find any sentence that presents a neutral point of view, or to word it more precisely, a more neutral way of interpreting the facts.
I am yet not judging the information provided in the ad, but just by looking at the way the ad is worded, anybody with a little bit of judgement can say claim that it is biased against Obama.
The ad starts out judging Senator Obama as "dangerously naïve," as not having the "wisdom, experience, or strength on issues important to Israel."
And based on what the above judgements are made? '
Because Obama refused to call Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.
Because he is willing to "meet with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and other hostile nations without any preconditions."
Because he is surrounded by friends and advisors who are "anti-Israel," and who shape his world views.
Because he "flip-flopped" and said that the future of Jerusalem would have to be negotiated by Israel and the Palestinians.
These facts are clearly not sufficient to claim that Obama is "naïve" and not qualified to be the president. The facts don't even prove that Obama has anything against Israel. Just because there has been conflict between Jerusalem and Tehran doesn't mean that if somebody is willing to negotiate with one, he is against with the other.
The author(s) of the ad is just trying to direct Jewish votes away from Obama. They may have their own opinion and interpretations of Obama's words and actions, but imposing them on other people through an ad is just too inappropriate!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
The reason this article caught my eye was because of the headline link on cnn.com that reads,
Obama was 'unaware' of his aunt's immigration status.
Not only does this article evoke a condescending tone that implies a stupidity and ignorant on Obama's behalf, but the reporter of this article, (who did not write the actual headline) included quotes from Obama's memoirs regarding his aunt.
An official familiar with the aunt's immigration status told CNN on Saturday that Onyango remains in the U.S. four years after she was ordered to leave.
This quote from the article uses biased language in the phrase "she was ordered to leave." The In a perviously published AP article, it was reported that a judge rejected Onyango's request for asylum four years ago, and "the Kenyan native is living in public housing in south Boston."
While the above remarks are not fabricating any truths, the language and way the information was presented leads to an implied bias against the Senators aunt.
Furthermore, later in the article it is revealed that Obama has not spoken to the woman in two years. Yet, the quotes included in the article from his memoirs suggest otherwise.
In his book, Obama describes meeting his aunt when he visited Kenya as a young man.
"A tall, brown-skinned woman was smiling beside us, and Auma [Obama's half-sister] turned and said, 'Barack, this is Auntie Zeituni. Our father's sister," Obama wrote.
"'Welcome home,' Zeituni said, kissing me on both cheeks."
While this article is not entirely false or biased, many aspects of the text are subjective and could have been checked by a copy editor from another political party.
CNN's Mike Ahlers, Jeanne Meserve and Rebecca Sinderbrand contributed to this report. It was posted on November 2, 2008 at 3:10 pm on CNN.COM
The half-sister of Sen. Barack Obama's Kenyan father reportedly lives in this complex in South Boston.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Busted: Facebook Pictures Show Married U2 Singer Bono's Rendezvous With Sexy Teens
Earlier in the week, Fox news posted an article online concerning the activities of U2 singer Bono during his vacation in St Tropez. Bono was "caught" with two 19-year old females, American fashion student Andrea Feick and her friend Hannah Emerson. Caught doing what you might ask? Apparently, nothing.
Pictures of Bono with his arms around two bikini wearing teenagers were posted on Facebook and accompanied by "diary details." Given the first word in the headline of the article, "Busted," any reader would assume that these details were somehow incriminating. Yet the details only revealed that Bono, his friend Simon Carmody (former member of Irish band Golden Horde), and the two teenagers drank at a beach bar, strolled along the beach, and partied on U2 guitarist The Edge's yacht. So how exactly was he busted? It is safe to assume that that the front man for a rock band as big as U2 would be partying during his vacation. And it's not wrong for him to hang out with fans while doing so, even if they are young attractive females. In fact, it's good PR.
To be fair, Fox did include a critical piece of information:
"Feick said their relationship had never crossed the line beyond friendship. 'For somebody who's much older than I am ... no thank you,' she said"
Despite Feicks' comment, Fox still decided to place Bono in a bad light, as if his actions were morally reprehensible. The network sensationalized the story with words like "busted" and "sexy teens." The end of the article contains the following statement, "Bono, Carmody and the girls partied into the night on the yacht," followed by "Bono's 26-year marriage to wife Ali is famously strong."
The inclusion of the last sentence says it all: News Corp (who owns Fox) is persuading people into believing that Bono's marriage is not as strong as people thought. Celebrity coverage in the main stream media is superfluous as it is. Do we really need to distort information to make it into a news story?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
This is a broadcast on Fox News in August, but I thought it's still important to mention because it is an example of extreme media bias. Normally when we speak about media bias, we would think of articles or broadcasts providing information in favor of or against a targeted individual, group or issue. But preventing someone from voicing their opinions in front of the audience during a broadcast is just too much!
On August 20th, Fox News had an interview with Amanda Kokoeva and her aunt Laura Tedeeva-Korewiski. Coming from San Francisco, Amanda was in South Ossetia at the time of the attack on August 7th. According to Amanda, the Georgian army was bombing the place and the Russian troop in fact helped her uncle and her to get to Moscow safely.
Whether the information provided is true or not, Fox News did a good job of covering the truth by stopping the witnesses from talking when she started to accuse Georgia at fault. He didn't even let her finish the sentence where she wanted to say thank you to the Russian troop. The reason the MC gave was "We need a commercial break."
We all know that US media have been supporting Georgia in this conflict since the war started in August 2008. Journalists and editors have the right to have their stands in the issue, but they should keep their opinions separate from their work. Their role is to provide the public with neutral information, and it's up to the audience what to believe in. By selecting to publicize only news that support their opinions and suppressing information that is against their perceived views, they are providing only one side of the story to the audience.
In this case, where the journalist and the news outlet itself deliberately stopped the witnesses from speaking and providing their opinions, it is just way across the line of what a journalist is not supposed to do. It is sad how contemporary journalism is negatively moving towards this direction. I'm not saying all journalists and media outlets are biased, but this example just show how some journalists and news stations are not ashamed of violating their own ethic codes.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The Agence France-Presse news agency reported today that Twitter can potentially be used as a terrorist tool.
A draft US Army intelligence report has identified the popular micro-blogging service Twitter, Global Positioning System maps and voice-changing software as potential terrorist tools.
The Agence France-Presse news agency did not mention however, that the United States Postal Service, E-mail, The Telephone and the Internet could also be used as a terrorist tool.
This article is completely biased and provides no actual information aside from the fact that Twitter is a social networking tool that can release information faster than a news organization.
"The report is not based on clandestine reporting but drawn from open source intelligence known as OSINT."
While the content of this article is bogus and not necessary, the reporter declined to interview anyone from Twitter or other social networking tools. It seems as if, the reporter feels the article was unnecessary as well.
I discovered this article linked on FOXNEWS.com, the most biased name in news. Expecting to find a right winged article leaning toward McCain, or bashing Obama. I was surprised to find this article that made fun of the US Govt. I would expect, however, a detailed serious article describing the threats of Twitter. Not, the ridiculous tone and mocking feel of the actual article.
Perhaps the reporters at Foxnews online only read headlines.
This article was surprisingly biased. While it may be the sentiments of the reporter or the news agency itself, the article's tone was bored and mocking.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
D&C readers may be uninformed
In my previous blog post I pointed out how the Democrat and Chronicle (D&C) treated the "Paterson aide pays back $300,000" story with little importance, burying an already unelaborate article. The article explains how Charles O'byrne (Paterson's aide) paid back nearly $300,000 in back taxes.
To further understand my point, consider the fact that O'byrne resigned as a result of scrutiny over his delinquent taxes. Since the article was placed on the second to last page of the Local & State (B section), many D&C readers may have missed the story. Thus, any prior knowledge of O'Byrne's tax problem (before the news broke of his resignation) came from another news source, if it came at all.
This illustrates how burying bad news leads to an uniformed public. Furthermore, any news that compromises the trust in the office of the NY Governor should be top priority, considering the former Governor's prostitution scandal.
D&C's story of O'byrne resignation was the last on page 5B on Saturday. The only content left to proceed it was advertisements and weather (on the following page).
Friday, October 24, 2008
D&C: Paterson aide pays back $300,000
Media Bias isn't always blatant. It often occurs within the mere placement of an article in a newspaper. This is the case in Thursday's issue of the Democrat and Chronicle (D&C), in which a story about Gov. Paterson's top aide Charles O'Byrne is buried.
O'Byrne failed to file tax returns from 2001 to 2005, accumulating nearly $300,000 in state and federal tax debt. Since becoming an aide to then Lieutenant Gov. David Paterson in 2007, he's paid his debt in full.
Which of the following stories should take priority in a newspaper based in Rochester NY: the delinquent tax bills of a negligent NY state official or the 19th annual ABC Household and Antique Sale in a local town?
For the D&C the answer is the latter. The ABC story appeared on page 1B (Local & State section) right below the lead story: Teen charged with DWI. O'byrne's story was buried on page 5B. For other New York newspapers, including the Times Union (based in Albany) and the New York Post, the story was given precedence.
In addition to its poor placement, the article contains minimal information. For instance, the author mentions O'byrne's clinical depression during the years he wasn't paying taxes. But unlike the Times Union, it fails to mention that O'byrne was able to work during that time; since 2001, he's worked as a corporate lawyer, a speech writer (for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign), and as Chief of Staff to Paterson during his time as Lieutenant Gov. of New York.
It isn't always easy to report bad news. This is especially true if the bad news hits home, literally. However, it is a newspapers responsibility to inform the public of all news and to do so in such a way that important issues (good or bad) are salient. Important issues should also be reported more thoroughly then, lets say a used and antique goods sale. Readers may be upset over reading bad news, but they will have more trust in newspapers that prioritize.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
What is the real purpose of this article?
I know this seems like a random topic to blog about, however I also realize that as college students we can probably all relate at some level to the ever present and sometimes controversial issue: drinking, especially student binge drinking. This article found in Forbes health section is supposed to detail the top 15 cities in America that have high drinking rates; hence, the headline: "America's Hard-Drinking Cities," which immediately drew my attention to the story. I initially read the list of the 15 noted cities around the United States then clicked the link for the full article.
Upon completing reading the article however, I thought it was more of a cry to stop binge drinking in the U.S., especially places like Austin, the number one city on the list as the writers reiterated throughout the text. Also, they particularly pointed out the fact that Austin is home to a majority of college students and thus a threat to their surroundings due to the binge drinking habits which occur mostly by students on Sixth Street.
I did not find this story angle to be very fair. First of all, to specifically point fingers to college sudents as the ones with drinking problems is pure stereotyping, especially just basing that information on mere personal judgements and assumptions. Another slanted component of this story is how prevalent they make the fact that drinking is pure harm to one's body as well as a disturbance of peace to the surrounding community and putting lives at risk with the possibility of drinking and driving. Well, in reality, practically every city in the world must deal with similar situations resulting from drinking problems, not just the top 15 cities in the U.S.
I felt like this article consisted of a plethora of biased insinuations against alcohol, specifically binge drinking in America. Granted there are not many positives to be said of it, I do not think it was necessary to shift the focus of the story line to the multiple negatives of the habit. Based on the headline and lead, I opened the article with an interest in what the top 15 drinking cities in America are and why, not to learn about the negative effects alcohol could have on my life, or a history lesson on drinking in Austin and Milwaukee.
(Above photo taken from http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/07/alcohol-drinking-cities-forbeslife-drink08-cx_de_avb_0807hard.html?feed=rss_popstories, where article is also posted)
Sunday, October 19, 2008
In May 2008, two Vietnamese journalists were arrested after they reported on a famous case of government corruption in 2006. The reported political scandal is PMU 18 (Public Management Unit 18), which involved the use of millions of public funds in gambling, nepotism and bribery. The PMU was operated under the Ministry of Transport, which received funding from international sources such as Japan, the EU, World Bank and Australia to help Viet Nam build roads and other infrastructures. The PMU scandal was one of the greatest political scandals, which led to extensive news coverage, the resignation of the transport minister, and the arrest of the deputy minister.
The deputy minister was released without any charge in March 2008. His position in the party was still reserved. Shortly after that, two of the journalists who reported on the case two years ago were arrested and accused of "abusing power and democratic freedoms," distributing "false information," and "disclosing secret information." Just a few days ago, on October 14th, one of them, Mr. Chien from Thank Nien was sentenced to 2 years in prison, while the other, Mr. Hai is on probation for 24 months. The justification of the judge for sentencing Mr. Chien to 2 years was that "He doesn't admit for his wrongdoing." Mr. Chien insisted that he got his information from trusted sources, and that the information he provided is completely correct. Mr. Hai, on the other hand, admitted that he was not careful about the information he published. Another journalist who was also arrested, suddenly admitted he was wrong after "a night reconsidering," and was released after that.
I don't want to be biased by making a conclusion that the two journalists are innocent, and the judge has made the wrong decision (whether unintentional or not). The fact that the journalists are both well-respected members of the journalists community, had been writing for two of the most popular news sites in Viet Nam, and have both reported many corruption cases is not why I am more geared towards considering this another example of government corruption. But what a coincidence when they were arrested roughly after the deputy minister was released back to his position. Another "coincidence," as mentioned above, is that the one who doesn't admit the information about corruption was false, was sentenced to prison, while the other not. Besides, when asked about what "false information" the journalists reported, the police answered the question by claiming that it's a "sensitive matter."
Many are angry with the court's decision, and think that anyone who dares to fight government corruption faces the risk of being eliminated, or "taught a lesson." Instead of expressing their angers on traditional Vietnamese news sites, they go on more liberal sites such as BBC Vietnam to voice their opinions. With the youth being more and more skeptical about traditional news sites, and seeing other journalists being convicted for covering corruption, where would the future of the media and future journalists go? Journalists trained to hide the truth? Or journalists escaping traditional media for their own routes?
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Click here for the full article
In the article McCain fails, Obama is not rattled, reporter Roger Simon of Yahoo! news reflects on last night's third and final presidential debate. As a news reporter, he is expected to provide a neutral summary of crucial talking points or chief events that occurred at the debate. Simon however provided the exact opposite and included a personal touch in his conclusions on the event. His writing seemed to slant far left, as a desciple to the Democrats and clearly against the Republicans, particularly candidates McCain and Palin.
"Debates should not be confused with trips to Lourdes: Few miracles are dispensed," said Simon in his first sentence of the article. For the record, I never knew what Lourdes hospitals were until I lived in Binghatom, so that metaphor should have had some clarification or not been included. More importantly, why is a miracle necessary? He opens this article by saying that McCain needed a miracle in the last debate to gain victory; thus, he implies that Obama leads by a landslide, which last time I checked prior to this debate they were almost kneck-in-kneck. Some attribution there is necessary to support his claims.
Simon's entire article is full of biases, faults and inaccuracies not to mention intense sarcasm [against McCain] based especially on his personal views about the political parties.
Simon metaphorically expresses McCain's defeat as "the clouds did not part. Heavenly choirs were not heard." Is that really necessary? Especially the sarcastic tone, which granted it's print, the underlying sarcam is evident in this statement. To me, it read like a mockery toward McCain and Palin's policies and beliefs.
My favorite is when he criticizes McCain for sarcastically attacking Obama in the debate; I guess Simon would surely know about sarcastic attacks!
Furthermore, he pursues the idea that Obama was not phased by McCain's 'harsh, brutal attacks' against him during the debate, in fact according to Simon, "Obama was so cool that after 90 minutes under blazing TV lights, an ice cube wouldn't have melted on his forehead." Are we writing for a second-grade joke class? Also, how does he know if the lights were even hot at all? Either he spoke to the candidates or was there under the lights with them; I didn't see anyone but the participants on TV, nor did he quote Obama regarding the 'excessive heat.'
Another blatantly bias approach was how Simon referred to McCain's response as a sneer ("McCain sneered") instead of using the correct journalistic format by saying said after a direct quote in a news story.
It's also interesting that Simon only referenced McCain's followers as nasty and threatening, but failed to mention the recent SNL parodies against Palin, or Madonna's outcry, unruly rant and public ban from concerts to Palin for no apparent reason. Madonna even threatened to kick Palin's ass if she showed up at one of her tour venues! How's that for nasty rallies?
He continually regurgitates the fact that Obama remained "cool" through the debate despite McCain's unruly and heinous attacks (as Simon would summarize them). Yet, just because he held his temper so well during a public discussion does not automatically indicate that the public's fear of his past relations are completely inaccurate--it just means he can hide things well, if there is anything to hide. Even if Obama mentions terrorist associations "smoothly" as Simon describes, it still instigates fear in some people.
Again, Simon throws in one of his opinionated and sarcastic rhetorical questions implying his political party affiliation and thus creating a biased story when he says "And McCain's desire to keep his party united behind him--because who else is? —"
After reading Simon's [Democratic] slanted article, I realized that his conclusion from the debate is that McCain intends to spark a fire inside Obama and make him erupt in anger, since according to Simon, that would be the only way McCain could win this election. This is not very accurate either; it's based on a mere assumption, going against journalistic rules.
The reporter clearly dictates his personal political stance throughout the story and even implies loutish remarks against McCain and Palin in their efforts to win the election.
I almost commended him at the end for recognizing that the election is not over and anything can happen in politics, until I read his closing statement: "It usually doesn't however."
F.Y.I. miracles do happen, but a miracle is not necessary here, so first get the facts straight then tell the story.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A local businessman with a heart of gold is jumping into the ring with Michael Lohan, the bad boy father of Lindsay Lohan, to see if he can take him out.
"LI businessman to fight Lindsay Lohan's dad" The title says it all.
At first glance one may think this article is about a legal battle between a CEO and a child star's parent. Look a little closer (i.e. two paragraphs down) and one may be surprised to find this article is describing a literal boxing match!
Now it may just be my reporters bias toward a good old metaphor, but I was floored when I came upon the portion of the article where the actual boxing match is revealed. There are literally six paragraphs that lead into the actual facts of this story. Aside from which, the fodder and fluff is "dissing" Lindsay Lohan's father!
This article is biased for many other reasons. "Venero, 40, says he's not nervous, despite knowing about Lohan's stint in jail. The man, who built a $100 million company.."
While I realize this article is a feature piece, the primary focus is Michael Lohan's time spent in jail. To promote this charity should be the first reason for the article, Lindasy Lohan's father should be the second.
Having read Newsday for many years now, I have come to realize that the reporters sentiment toward the Long Island actress is a negative one. While her father is participating in a charitable event, the focus is on his daughter and his criminal record.
The original article was written by Tania Padgett on October 14, 2008 and printed in Newsday.
Since the airing of the VP debate a couple of weeks ago, a vast number of blogs have criticized moderator Gwen Ifill, claiming her moderation was "biased." This criticism stems from her work in progress, a book to be titled "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the age of Obama."
The following are links to a couple of blogs questioning Ifill's fairness during the debate:
According to these and many other conservative bloggers (and unsurprisingly, a Fox News Report), Ifill's book is pro-Obama and its economic success depends upon the results of the election. They've also claimed that Ifill failed to disclose the potential conflict of interest.
The truth: Ifill's book is not pro-Obama. The success of the book is not dependent upon the success of the election, as much as it is Obama's candidacy. And Ifill didn't fail to disclose the book.
The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the age of Obama is about the roll of minorities in politics during recent history. According to Random House Publishing the book "sheds new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introduces the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political to power."
In September Gwen Ifill uploaded a video from Washington Week to Youtube, in which she openly talks about her book: "it's taking the story of Barack Obama and extending it to talk about a whole new generation of politicians..." said Ifill.
Furthermore, The book was reported on in the Washington Times and appeared in trade catalogs in July 2008. This was before she was selected to be moderator. It's not Ifill's fault the debate commission wasn't aware of her writing the book. The committee didn't do its homework.
And even if Ifill is pro Obama, does that make her incapable of being fair? No. Wouldn't you expect every Journalist to have an opinion? Yes. Ifill is the managing editor and moderator for a Washington Week and senior correspondent The News Hour on PBS. She is a respected Journalist with a long track record of covering politics and news, fairly. She should be judged only by her performance, not her interest in the candidacy of Barack Obama.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
It is not unusual to pick out the bias in controversial issue or political party stories, but to find biased news in sports coverage is rather different. It's understandable that the majority of the population are fans of at least one sports team, but when reporting on a specific event, or game, one's personal affiliation should be left out of the story. I mean the reporter should in no way insinuate their favored team, especially when the story involves that team!
After reading this article, I was convinced that the writer, Bob Baum, AP, was either a devoted Cardinals fan or simple anti-Cowboys advocate. Baum uses clear, concise coverage of the actual facts from game plays, yet he also makes it obvious that the Cowboys were unsuccessful in their efforts to win.
For instance he says, "almost isn't good enough when you're the Cowboys, who thus far haven't been the dominating team many expected them to be." This was his comment in response to Dallas coach Wade Phillips' statement that "it was almost a miracle finish for the team."
Obviously the team has not been on top like they would have liked to be, but to have placed such a random comment, almost like an emotional outburst in a sports re-cap article is practically unnecessary. It is public knowledge and already understood that Dallas is down right now and thus did not need to be reiterated by Baum in this article.
Then he proceeded to state the expectations, like a slap in the Cowboys' face. Yes, of course the team is held to high expectations, by fans, their coach, and opponents because of their reputation. However, this is not news! Isn't every team held up to some level of high expectations by those of either authority or the public/ fan bases? How is it any different for the Cowboys? I felt like that statement was out of place in the article since most of it discusses the plays and actions of both teams and explains basic facts of what occurred at the game. This is not the only time Baum reveals a slant in his writing.
Next, Baum uses more game-play to favor Arizona: "Folk was in field-goal range only because a 5-yard offside penalty was called against injured Arizona linebacker Travis LaBoy as he tried to limp downfield. The penalty moved the ball from the 40 to the 35."
I think Baum was a bit too detailed about this penalty field-goal made by Dallas. The bold parts show his "discreet" way of implying that it was an unfair advantage to Dallas and rained a pity shower on Arizona's injured player.
Lastly, Baum said "that was just one of the weird moments in Arizona's sixth consecutive home victory." Here, he reveals his pride over Arizona's victory in Sunday night's tense game. "Weird moment?" Is that a unanimous conclusion or just another emotional appeal?
Headline: FOX freakout over unretouched Palin photo on Newsweek cover
Monday, October 6, 2008
Click on picture to view video....
On Tuesday, September 23, in his speech at the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the Zionists (referring to Israel) of "murdering" the Palestinians, of controlling the international financial system, and of being "deceitful" in a "complex" and "furtive" manner. In his speech, he also said that "Today the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse, and there is no way for it to get out of the cesspool created by itself and its supporters."
I saw this first on Ynetnews.com, an Israeli news site. In her article, "Peres: Ahmadinejad's UN speech a shame," Dana Zimmerman cites Israeli President Peres' severe criticism of Mr. Ahmadinejad's words. He, in turns, attacks Iran: "Tehran combines long range missiles and short range minds. It is pregnant with tragedies."
According to Mr. Peres,"Yesterday, on this very stage, the Iranian leader renewed the darkest anti-Semitic libel."
If you just read this article, you would definitely disagree with Mr. Ahmadinejad. You would even say that his words are terribly vicious, trying to brainwash some people. But in a dinner in New York on Thursday with around 200 people, he was making his point, that he was not against the Jews, but the Zionist party. According to Mr. Ahmadinejad, "Zionism is a political party that has nothing to do with Jewish people."
The interesting fact is that this was confirmed by Ynetnews 3 days later after his speech at UN.
I think everyone, including political leaders and journalists, have their own beliefs. Ahmadinejad might not have expressed his beliefs in the most appropriate way, and might not have clarified it during his speech that he wasn't against the Jews in general, but rather against the regime. It's hard to argue whether he was just expressing his views and beliefs, and what he really thinks is right and wrong; or he was trying to use propaganda to persuade people to believe the way he does. However, the job of the journalists is to report news correctly, not to interpret things in their own way, or using somebody else's words to tell their own views, because that person's interpretation may not be correct neither.