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Common Wealth Games in India

  • Date Submitted: 06/28/2011 09:06 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 26.9 
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In journalism, “bias” is a word with many meanings. It suggests a single explanation – a conscious, even willful preference for a selective portrayal of a situation - for a range of instance in which the message does not reflect the reality. But few objective observers of, for instance, the reporting of campaign finance would argue that conventional biases are operating there. Journalists in general are not singling out Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, for praise or blame. Rather one has to look to more intrinsic and ingrained factors- to the “structural biases” of American newspapers and the “political assumptions” of their reporters, editors, and headline-writers-to explain bias in the news.

Structural biases are rooted in the very nature of journalism –in its professional norms, in marketplace imperatives, in the demands of communicating information to an unsophisticated audience. Stories need identifiable actors, understandable activity, and elements of conflict, threat or menace. They cannot be long, and must avoid complexity – must focus on controversy, personalities and negative statistics rather than on concepts. These define the “good” story.

As for political assumptions, all observers bring a “cognitive map” to American politics – a critical posture toward politics, parties, and politicians. For some, it is as simple as “all politicians are crooks”; for others, it involves understanding the distribution of power and influence in America.

The media’s particular understanding of the ways of influence and decision-making in government colors the way they describe political reality. It also defines their responsibility in reporting that reality; contemporary reporters are in many ways the grandchildren of the Progressive muckrakers. Few aspects of American politics reinforce this Progressive world-view as effectively as the American way of campaign finance. Its cash is an easy measure of influence, and its PACs are...


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