Media bias is the bias in the way journalists and news producers normally select what to present and what not to present. Media bias is a living fact and its existence is apparent to us in this generation. As much as the right to expression and level of literacy has gone up, there is still a big challenge in relaying of the right information on those who should rightfully get it. Media bias may be as a result of influence from strong individual forces. These forces normally tend to dictate what the media should give or not give the public. Another reason may be due to neglect from the side of news producers. Some areas that need reporting are often forgotten. Yet another reason may be due to interest or lack of interest from the media group to present some news at the expense of their selfish benefits.
The real challenge that prevents media from being neutral is the slackness of journalists in giving the appropriate news item. It is sometimes difficult to present news consistently. As much as a news reporter may intend to present everything, he or she is at risk of leaving out some important fact that the public may be in need of.
The intended audience is also a determinant when selecting the news to give. News that can cause discord among members of a society may sometimes be prevented from viewers. Some hard core scenes may not be suitable for viewers of a certain caliber and are therefore often put away (Janda 142).
A study showed some poor practices by journalists like giving their personal opinions, putting weight on one side of two controversial issues which may be far from facts. Most journalists when interviewed by a liberal media Watchdog revealed that they were on the side of the public on matters concerning health care and economic labor.
Many news organizations always want to represent views of particular ethnic and geographic locations. For example a majority of Western media groups have been accused in Africa and Asian countries of being pro-western in regard to political, social and economic reports (Kelly 48). TV stations like Aljazeera have faced accusation by the Western countries. There have been reports in the past of some international media organizations presenting false stories about some countries in Africa on issues which are very devastating. This sometimes breaks international relations among countries that were once friends.
The Anglophones Corporation which is the main news buyer and supplier agency may be in a position to choose which news to air and which not to. News agencies often edit their news before giving out the final product which may not be the original juicy fact. In the process of editing, any controversial issue will either face removal or reported with absolute care lest the corporation be in trouble.
The major news agencies like Reuters and associated press are the ones that provide news services around the world. Even though they are international, they have alienation to some countries; for example, Agency France Press is alienated to France, UK and US. They are therefore prone to influence by these countries in their news production and reliance.
In some countries, religious media bias is apparent. This is common in a case where a state is dominated by certain religious affiliations that control it. In such a scenario, bias against other faiths that are minority in that state becomes clear. Even in countries that have freedom to choose religion, the one that is dominant tend to have a say on many crucial matters.
In countries where Christianity is the main religion, reporters normally focus on Christian events at the expense of other religions. In the Middle East, it is Islam that is prevalent hence Christians are often sidelined. The unbelievers are often completely out of coverage. Media ignore non-believers completely and never even think of letting their views known.
Some denominations do have their own media stations. In these stations, they only air their practices. They fail to consider others. This brings bias because those who are not of that faith lose interest and may not continue to depend on it (Bond and Kevin 277)
Role of Language
Many times in a society with diverse personality, races, ethnicity and social class, bias tend to kill the morale of many. A worse situation is where people do not speak a common language. Bias becomes a loud problem here. Those who do not understand a language normally feel left out. They are often left out and important information passes them.
Sometimes a translator is used to make those who are not conversant with a language to understand (Rayside 295). This may not be fully effective because the translator is always at the liberty to twist certain points the way they like and hence still succeed in closing others out. In some parts of the world, civil wars have been experienced due to propaganda spread to undermine people who speak different languages from their counterparts.
Language may also be classified as a political factor in the media. This may be apparent in places that are characterized by a diverse number of languages that are spoken. The choice of language used by media may bring bias and close doors for participation to those who do not speak that language. Affected states should try as much as possible to ensure that all media organizations use a common language so as to contain this deadly vice.
Types of Bias
One most common item of media bias is when media attack or support a political party. It mostly occurs in state media corporations. These media houses owned by the government normally tend to be in favor or the current regime. Another form is advertising bias. Here, stories are slanted to please advertisers. Corporate bias is where stories are slanted to impress corporate proprietors of media. Mainstream bias is the desire to report that what everyone else is presenting (Meltzer 114). Another form of bias is sensationalism which involves giving more attention to the exceptional than the ordinary. For example events that do occur rarely like plane crash are considered at the expense of the most often ones like vehicle accidents. Others may include reporting in favor of some races, religion, age and gender.
Effects of Bias
We are in a society where information is a key issue and if not relayed with adequacy, all may go wrong. Media bias may lead to hatred among members of a society. When a media group reports in favor of particular members of the society and leaving out others, negative thoughts and perceptions may become apparent. The favored may start feeling more superior to the disfavored and undermine them, hatred and contempt crops in and finish away any element of love in the society (Ott 62). Impunity among certain individuals in a society may grow stronger. It occurs when some influential personalities go about violating ethical standards and hide themselves from the public by ensuring that media do not report them.
Media bias affects political attitude and decision. Some media groups sometimes lean on one side and give their preferred parties and candidates more media time. This controls the minds of viewers and sways them to vote for the candidate who is mostly talked about. A survey showed that those who like reading Washington Times are likely to vote for Democrats.
Media bias can lead to racial discrimination. This may happen if the media has more interest on one race than others. It can also happen if media talks ill of another race. This sets a bad attitude in the minds of the different races. The attitude may lead to dislike amongst them. A high level of dislike may lead to disrespect and underrating of one another (MacKay 9).
Economic effect may result when a media organization advertises a lot for one corporation. This drives market away from other companies and shifts it to the favored one. The other companies may end up to the drain due to the shift of attention. This may result in loss of employment for people and lose of government revenue.
Dealing with Bias
This issue of media bias is taught in schools of journalism and in universities. In the US, these studies concentrate on achieving a liberal balance in media. Others include the differences in international reporting and economic hierarchies. One media survey established that most of the elite journalists in the US were registered voters and members of the Democratic Party.
Martin Harrison’s TV in 1985 criticized GMG of classifying bias according to their own perceptions. In 1988, Herman and Chomsky came up with a propaganda model describing media in US as being systematically biased and getting their funding from official sources which in turn had influence in their news selections. Kuypers discovered that print press in America operates under a stiff range of beliefs. Those who spoke negatively about the press were often ignored while those that were in support of the conservative ideologies were often given audience in the national talk.
In some cases like homosexuality, race and gun control, media often tend to give their points of view and in all cases being in line with the liberal ideologies. According to David Barron, most journalists often tend to lean on one side; either on the right or on the left side. Mass media often make their profit by presenting news items that are one sided. That way their favored ones keep stocking their accounts in a bid to continue being in the media at the expense of others (International Council on Human Rights Policy 51).
A similar theory speculates that for media to obtain neutrality there must be supply and demand because customers would tend to get attracted to the media that they can easily agree with. This theory though has heavier limitations. Another approach in dealing with bias to elimination is point/counterpoint which is also known as a round table. This ensures that the real facts are presented as raw as they are. In this case, the representatives of opposing ideologies are brought to the media and a debate is launched in the presence of viewers. The moderator must allow questions and comments from viewers directed to the opposing parties.
Another method that can be used to counter media bias is by bringing to the open affiliations that are bound to create conflicts in a society. This is often an issue when a news organization is giving story that has relevance to their organization. The Killian documents saga that was with an attempt to tarnish Bush’s military report was a real case of this similarity.
Another way to combat media bias is by enacting laws that enforces balance in media corporations owned by the state (Harper 179). From the year 1991, radio Canada has been regulated by an act on broadcasting. Same applies to CBC. This act proposes that all the programs offered by radio Canada should be comprehensive and give vivid information without being biased in any way. It also gives the public the chance to get exposed to opinions and views of different minds.
Media houses should be given freedom to report anything as long as it is in harmony with the general public. Views of the audience should also be taken so as to have them in mind while making news.
Comparison between Traditional and Modern Methods of Reporting
Current media and traditional media have a lot in common yet different in style. Modern media has improved a lot in news reporting. Technological advancement has taken place. The quality of machines in print and live media in the modern world has aided in production of high level results. Events can nowadays be reported live as they happen. This kind of technology may not have existed in the past.
The world has become more democratic than in the traditional times. Hence dictatorship of media by government has rolled to the past. Media is now freer. The monopolistic rule of media was the order of the day in the past due to few media groups (D'Alessio 41). On the contrary modern media has improved as a result of competition from others. Reporting in the modern media is better than traditional media because everyone wants to produce the best news. So modern media has grown a lot.
In conclusion, media bias is a vice that should be dealt with in a most careful way. Media speak for and to the people. It can destroy or make a society. To build a strong nation, all citizens must be involved. Our government should show us their support in proclaiming the gospel of media sanity. This way is dangerous and should not be tried at home.