Bias in News Media

Topics: Mass media, Journalism, Media bias Pages: 6 (2373 words) Published: March 12, 2014
"Halloween's coming up. If you could have Mitt Romney dress in a costume, what should he be for Halloween?" The above is quoted as an actual question asked by Douglas Brinkley of Rolling Stone to none other than the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, in an interview printed in October 2012. While a periodical known primarily for mainstream music news, Rolling Stone does employ international caliber journalists, and certainly should be printing a slightly higher quality drivel than a question likely to be posed by a child. The reader is not left with the impression of Peter Jennings, earnestly attempting to glean important threads of a political candidate’s priorities, but rather of a chat between friends, making silly jokes about a possible leader neither would choose to follow. There is a great amount of bias in journalism today, and not just on a level of the individual writer. The fact that entire news media outlets have a political bias one direction or another has become common knowledge, with no significant impact upon their credibility or popularity in the eyes of the consumer. This is an example of the low standards today’s populace holds the industry accountable for, and begs the question: How did bias become so integrated in an industry founded in professionalism and objectivity since before my parents’ generation? It’s really no surprise when one looks at how professionalism and standards have crumbled over the last few decades. When the news was aired on television through the 50s and 60s, news programming would typically run from 7.30 to 11 PM on the major networks- and there were no other channels. The news was presented in a calm and unbiased manor by actual professionals in the industry, and there was ample time to delve into a great number of news items from around the world. For this generation the faces of people like Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Charles Kuralt and Andy Rooney gave a feeling of trust and unquestioning belief, and that was something these journalists staked their professional reputation on. These reporters were trusted with covering issues like the civil rights movement, the Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy assassination, the landing on the moon, and the Vietnam War. Great progress was made as a country, and bias was a dirty word that could ruin an entire career. In 1980 CNN was introduced, offering world-wide news coverage throughout the day for those who wanted access to it. This expanded the amount of stories covered, but it also for the first time divided what the country’s population was viewing by demographic. They broadcasted the explosion of the Challenger in 1986, provided footage during multiple wars, the collapse of both the Soviet Union and the Berlin wall, showing the populace how riveting and dramatic the news could actually be when presented in real time. Live coverage added to the excitement- you never really knew what was actually going to happen. Drama begins to sneak into news broadcasting. In 1981 cable channel MTV activated, and impacted the journalistic community by heralding in the age where you could now access the type of viewing you wanted, instead of households sitting together to view the same programming together. At this time, adult family members could watch the news during the day without their children, then watch sitcoms or the like together for a time as a family after dinner, and the children could watch MTV or shows more to their interests on their own time- at this point even in their own rooms without any interaction from another generation. This is the physical manifestation of “group polarization”- a social crime that this younger generation will commit on a much larger political scale later in life. Bias will be important to this generation- they are learning to gravitate towards information pertaining to their own beliefs and interests, instead of taking the time to learn something from another perspective. The mid-...
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