Avoiding Media Bias

Charges of “Media Bias” are rampant from political partisans. Rarely is agreement or consensus reached on what is media bias. One of the principles of journalism is to keep news “in proportion and not leaving important things out are also cornerstones of truthfulness.Journalism is a form of cartography: it creates a map for citizens to navigate society. Inflating events for sensation, neglecting others, stereotyping or being disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map.”

Asian journalist S.M Hali identified some seven tools of media bias. By avoiding them, we make journalism more credible:

Opinion as a Fact—by presenting one’s personal opinion disguised as a fact can easily mislead readers.

Half Truths—Quoting out of context or presenting only one aspect of information is a favourite ploy of propagandists.

Misleading Headlines—the headline writer can propagandize effectively since many see a headline but seldom read the story.

Biased Photographs—presenting best perspective of favourites and worst of undesirables.

Censorship—selective control of information so as to favour a particular viewpoint or editorial position and deliberate doctoring of information or totally disbarring certain undesirable information are certain forms of censorship to create a desired effect.

Wrongful Attribution or Testimonial Technique—in which a journalist may attribute a statement to a veiled or vague authority to gain credence for an incorrect statement.

Yellow Journalism—the term denotes scare headlines, superficial writing, faked pictures and interviews and encompasses all of the above. Originated from William Randolph Hearst – 1887 ‘Examiner’, ‘New York journal’- to gain circulation, he urged in 1900 war with Spain and succeeded in making this uncalled for conflagration with its resultant most unfortunate consequences.

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