The real media bias

A great series of two pieces on NPR the past two days about media “bias.”  I especially loved, “American Media’s True Ideology? Avoiding One.” In fact, this is going straight into my readings for this semester’s Intro to American Government.   This slavish devotion to a non-existent objectivity leads news media to leave Americans less informed as they never get to the bottom of issues and insist on an even-handed reporting of “both sides” even when there are not.  Meanwhile, they spend far too much focus on “the game” of politics because you’re much less likely to be accused of bias when reporting poll results.

Conservatives have complained for years about what they see as a pervasive liberal sensibility in the media. This is different. Rosen says the “view from nowhere” too often limits political reporters to obsessing about winners and losers — who’s up or down — rather than the harder work of determining who’s telling the truth or the effects of the policies those politicians adopt.

The other part in the series explains how the British newspapers actually do a better job by being honest about where they are coming from.  It’s not all that dissimilar to the approach I like in the classroom:

“In Britain, we feel that it’s better to know where people are coming from and then to make up your own mind about what you think, because the truth is nobody can be completely impartial and objective,” Boles says. “I mean the idea [that] The New York Times doesn’t have a political point of view — it’s ridiculous. It does, but it twists itself into knots in an attempt to pretend that it doesn’t.”

There’s no point in pretending I don’t have a point of view.  Better my students know where I’m coming from so they can fairly evaluate what I have to say.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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