News Literacy

Topics: Los Angeles Times, Toyota, NEWS Pages: 7 (2677 words) Published: December 4, 2011
News is presented to the public in numerous mediums, including newspapers, magazines, television programs and the internet. With all of these sources providing information, it is obvious that some of the articles or stories will not be as reliable as others. By being news literate, capable of analyzing news reports and judging their credibility, the news consumer can accurately determine what information should be taken, and what should be discarded as opinion and unreliable. Criteria for good news should be developed and used while analyzing the news sources to determine which are accurate. This can be proven by looking closely at five articles about the recent testimony in a congressional hearing by the president of Toyota Motors on the recent and numerous recalls of their automobiles. Each discusses and emphasizes different aspects of the widely talked about controversy over Toyota’s faulty vehicles that have lead to many accidents and some deaths. These five articles from different newspapers, Japan Today, Daily News, The Times, CNN Money, and The LA Times, were analyzed in terms of three criteria: high-quality sources, no bias, and telling the whole story. By doing so, it is clear that some are more accurate and reliable than others, with The LA Times piece being the best source for an accurate portrayal of this hearing.

The Japan Today article, written by Kelly Olsen, entitled “Toyota chief’s U.S. testimony closely watched in Japan” (2010) does not use poor sources, but only uses them from one side of the conflict, which in most instances is just as bad as having unreliable sources, giving the piece poor quality. There are no United States officials cited directly in this article which lowers the standard of this article by disregarding their important view on the matter. Also, all of the sources listed state the same idea about how well Mr. Toyoda’s testimony performance was. One of the quotes included was from Ryoichi Shinozaki, a crisis management expert in Tokyo. He said, “By Japanese standards, he was doing his best. He answered the questions and appeared comfortable” (Olsen, 2010). This shows a concrete example of how this article gives only sources from one side of the debate.

Just by looking at the choice of sources, it is obvious that this piece is biased, which does not improve the value of it. The focus is only on how Mr. Toyoda handled himself in the hearing. None of his responses to the grueling questions he was asked are included in this Japan Today article. No quotes from the actual hearing are included in the article, only dialogue from people commenting on his performance during the testimony. Koji Endo, managing director at Advanced Research Japan, discussed how Mr. Toyoda “doesn’t seem awkward, he seems to be sincerely giving his responses” (Olsen). Also, nothing positive about the U.S. or its justification behind the trial is ever discussed, which proves the article’s strong bias.

This piece hardly focuses on the actual hearing, thus not telling the whole story and proving to fail all three criteria for a quality, reliable news source. Only towards the end does the article mention the actual effect of the recalls on the consumers. Also, none of the quoted people are actually from the Toyota Motors company. Instead, all are analysts examining how well the president responded to questions. This can be seen through the previously included quotes from Mr. Shinozaki and Mr. Endo, who only comment on how the president handled himself throughout the hearing. The part of the story that included what tough questions were asked, his exact answers, and possible solutions to this problem is left out completely. By failing all the criteria, this piece from Japan Today proves to be untrustworthy.

The next article, from the Daily News, “‘Sorry’ Toyota chief frustrates pols at D.C. hearing” written by Richard Sisk (2010, p. 3) is another piece that does not display high-quality news...
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