A Real Cool Hand

I'm Craig Sturgis and this is a web site.

Classic Hits – Media Bias

(Note: This post originally appeared on my blogspot blog here. Datestamped footnotes with commentary may have been added for my own reflection and amusement.)

Classic hits is an attempt to consolidate all my internet written content, and also to revisit it from the present.

This post was borderline cheating when I originally put it up since it was mostly just something I wrote for a class, but it still seems pretty relevant today, even though there aren’t a lot of people braying about bias in the media these days. By far the most interesting dialog going on about the media right now is happening right now in the final season of David Simon and HBO’s The Wire. The show’s depiction of the newsroom and the conversation going on in the journalistic community about its portrayal is pretty fascinating. I want to watch the rest of the episodes so badly, but I do not want the show to end.

Other funny notes from this post include me mentioning my homepage as fark.com, a site I don’t believe I’ve visited in a couple years, and poking fun at dateline well before the “To Catch a Predator” thing became wildly popular.

I have included the stupid ‘mood’ and ‘song’ fields because I have to give myself some credit for starting my internet tradition of saying I felt dirty every time the internet asked me what mood I was in over 4 years ago. That and the song I was listening to is really awesome, and Y O U is a great band1 that’s giving their cd flashlights away on pleaserock.com.

Makin’ love on the radio

I’ve just finished what appears to be a successful all nighter writing a sociology term paper on bias in the media2. I achieved new heights of procrastination on this one- I did no research at all until the night before it was due, and didn’t start writing until around 1. But, due to my silly perfectionist complex that decides to rear its head every once in a while, I couldn’t bear to halfass it. One thing that was fun about this paper is I got to write a 2 page section on what theory I thought best addressed the problem, so I’ve decided to post it here for your viewing pleasure. -disclaimer- I’m a bit delirious at this point and it was the last thing I wrote so it may not be completely coherent. Enjoy:

Dr. Media-slant or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pundits

If one were to listen to the pundits, be it on television, the radio, or the internet, one would think that media bias was everywhere. Of course, if one were to keep listening to them, one would be inclined to suffer a brain aneurism due to all the issues to be upset about.I think media bias is an important thing to keep an eye out for. After all, if we can’t get reliable news, or at the very least get the same news from a variety of sources and then settle on a reasonable conclusion, how can we reach any logical conclusion on world affairs, or even social and political issues? However, none of the theories or opinions I researched seemed to resonate completely with me. I think the answer lies somewhere in-between the lines.

However unrelated they may seem on the surface, the many different topics that were discussed in my research, whether it was the liberal media junta, the menace of mega-media corporations, or Rush pontificating into his microphone over the issue of the day, all are part of an ever-increasing problem in media presentation.

Perhaps it’s not media bias that is the problem per se, but the bias that seems to be as much a by-product of showmanship in news reporting as hard-line political views. News today, regardless of medium, doesn’t seem to be about the five Ws anymore, but about answering the question at hand in the most entertaining fashion possible. It almost seems like a new, twisted form of yellow journalism.

Evidence of this emergence of entertainment as king of news can be seen as the 24 hour cable news networks become overpopulated with pundit fueled debate shows that seem to be less about debate and more about yelling opposing viewpoints that are far from those of the real mainstream citizen. It may not represent all the viewpoints very well, but it sure is fun to watch. Even headline news, the network that just gives you the main news details, inundates its viewers with a screen full of information, much of which is entertainment related.

Hardly any of us are innocent of contributing to this trend. As a confessed internet junkie, my internet homepage is www.fark.com, the very definition of entertaining tidbits mixed in with the news. My mother, despite vehemently disagreeing with his political views, listens to Rush Limbaugh whenever she can because she thinks it’s funny. She’s one of the 40 million reasons he has a 250 million dollar contract.

Even investigative reporting has let some of these aspects slip through. The Datelines, 60 minutes, and Primetime Lives of the world keep us inundated with new, upsetting, and titillating hour-long segments to shock and horrify middle-aged women every day of the week it seems. What fun is the latest investigative report without the deadpan wit of John Stossel?

This is not to say that bias in the traditional sense does not exist or is not a problem. Bias is most likely present in virtually every story whether the author is aware of it or not. It’s very possible that just in what small details are revealed or remain unrevealed, or even the wording of a sentence, can be interpreted as bias by someone with a personal connection to the issue at hand. I’ve witnessed firsthand the “hostile media effect” examined in the UPS teamster strike study. I’ve almost certainly fell victim to it as well.

What is worrisome is the increasing inability of reporters, columnists, and editors to write on any subject without stepping on the toes of the people who give them a paycheck. Even if a member of the media has an outright liberal bias as some claim, it is most likely not in their best interests to show it. More likely it is in their best interest to reverse that bias. Unfortunately, these economic influences put even the most impartial writers in a position where they cannot upset the stockholders else they end up out on the street dancing for nickels.

I think that bias in the sense that most people are worried about is not going to develop into a huge issue. Despite what insidious motives the conspiracy theorists may ascribe to the media, for right now most of the established media is concerned with maintaining their integrity. I think the bigger problem lies in the replacement of that integrity with the profit-driven bottom line and what we may lose in the end. But, even I can say I would tune in to watch CNN’s Crossfire: the Cage Match.

Current Mood: dirty dirty

Current Music: You – Radio

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  1. Sadly Y O U broke up a long time ago but their site and subsequent bands live on.

  2. My current strongest view on the media is simply that cable news is poison.