The media, regardless of format (i.e., television, radio, etc.), is biased. I am not talking about the Fox News vs MSNBC-conservative vs liberal type of bias. I instead am making the assertion that there is no such beast as an objective news outlet. All news outlets are subjective – there is no way around this fact.
Simply by the mere fact that a radio station airs one story over another or a television program broadcasts one soundbite over another or that a blog forum decides to highlight one thread over another means that a choice has been made and that choice was not objective, but was subjective. A news outlet cannot air or print everything so choices are made on what to promote and those choices are subjective.
Now, some news outlets may strive for objectivity but it is an unattainable goal. However, while some strive, there are some outlets that do not. It is therefore left up to the media consumer to decide whether a story, program, or thread is striving for objectivity or is driving towards another agenda.
I have two examples I wish to highlight.
The first comes courtesy of an article written in the October 17, 2010, edition of The Washington Post (page B3 for those who want to read the dead-tree version). Entitled “5 Myths about Sarah Palin“, this piece lists and debunks five misconceptions about the 2008 Republican nominee for Vice President.
That’s all well and good, but the reader should note who the author is. Matthew Continetti is an associate editor of The Weekly Standard, a conservative periodical. It should come as no surprise that an editor of a conservative magazine would seek to defend a potential presidential candidate for 2012 and so maybe the debunking of “myths” is not being done for an objective “let’s-educate-the-population” motive.
In addition, Mr. Continetti is the author of The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star. Now it really should come as no surprise that a man with a book about shoring up Sarah Palin would take to the pages of the Post to continue to shore her up.
Kudos to the Post for printing the facts at the end of Continetti’s piece about where he works and what his latest book was, but it’s at the end of the piece where it can be lost to the reader.
Example Number Two comes from a commercial I heard on a radio station. The advertisement was for a television program called Energy Now. The commercial spoke about how the program would deal with energy issues affecting the country.
Energy Now is produced by Clean Skies Network, LLC.
Clean Skies Network is run by the American Clean Skies Foundation.
Chesapeake Energy happens to bill itself as the second-largest producer of natural gas.
Oh, and they also happen to run a television program devoted to energy issues. If you see stories touting natural gas and dismissing other forms of energy, one should view them a high degree of skepticism.
It’s rough being a consumer of media in the 21st century. One should always know the sources of the media they consume.