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The Lack of Media Objectivity During Elections in North America

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The Lack of Media Objectivity During Elections in North America

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  • October 2010
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The Lack of Media Objectivity during Elections in North America

Hassan Adam Hosow

For a long period of time, the notion of freedom of the press has been regarded as an essential and fundamental element of a healthy democracy. The inherent importance of this notion in democratic societies lies in the thought of freedom of the press being the sole gateway to fair and reliable information. On one hand, this information enables the average citizens to make informed personal decisions, and on the other hand, it allows them to monitor the performance of their elected political decision-makers. In order to preserve this vital component of democratic theory, democratic countries such as the United States and Canada have enacted provisions in their constitutions to protect freedom of the press from limitations. A widely-held belief is that while the news media enjoy the constitutional rights to report any newsworthy story, the professional objectivity applied in the process of selecting and evaluating news materials is enough to bring media to a position of neutrality. Nevertheless, is it true that news media outlets always present fair, impartial and objective news coverage to the mass audience? Media scholars present a wide range of answers to this question. Scholars Stefano DellaVigna, Ethan Kaplan and Marsha Barber reveal the existence of persistent bias in news media’s coverage of major events such as electoral competitions, whereas Dave D’alessio and Mike Allen claim that the vast majority of news media maintain impartiality, fairness and objectivity in the coverage of election campaigns. An analysis of the corporate nature of news media, editorial policies, and subjective criteria for newsworthiness proves not only the existence of media bias in coverage of election campaigns but also the impact that media bias has on voter...