15 September 2010

Bias In The News:

Most people who know me know that I don’t watch television. Sure, once or twice a month I get really bored and will turn on Dead Like Me. I used to enjoy watching the news, but with how polarized and ridiculous it has become, I would rather read Texts From Last Night. I figure I’ll learn about the same amount.

We are all aware that national nws revels in half-truths and spectacle – Fox News should make a news segment on apologies [here and here]. What many may not realize is that the local news can be just as bad. However, what makes the fact-checking problems worse with local news is that most of the time, the local newspaper is the only newspaper in a given area. So when they publish a falsehood, there is no one on the other side to say, “Hey! That’s not true!”

Our local newspaper hates our mayor. I don't mean that they publish a couple of negative things about him. I mean, they actually make up things that lead to his recall election (that he won, interestingly enough). After reading some of this paper's drivel, I finally wrote a letter to the editor that will likely go unpublished. But if you dislike biased/inaccurate news, read on...

Dear Newspress,
I found the article "Our View" from September 2nd grossly inaccurate.
On September 1, your article by Mr. Allen says that '[University] says Bates’ grant didn’t come from the city’s funds.' But this editorial says they did: 'money from one of the grant programs the city, through the chamber, helped fund.' We are left to wonder if the money was from the city or not. Do your reporters even speak with each other? Here's another interesting bit, from the Sept. 1st article: 'The $5,000 in grant money was divided in half, with $2,500 being awarded to Bates and $2,500 to Ezzat-Ahmadi. [University] spokesman Gary Shutt said Bates had agreed to return the unspent $1,900 of his half of the money, and had already returned about $1,700.' So he's lacking only $200, according to the people who actually gave him the money and want it back. I'd say that's a legitimate source. One wonders why you're holding the Mayor accountable for his business partner's dealings in what appear to be a separate transaction. If grant money is first divided, THEN awarded, Mr. Bates has no control over where the other award goes. He doesn't work for University. If you have a problem with University's grant choices, you should logically complain to/about University.
I moved to your pleasant town one year ago from New Jersey. I've seen corruption in elected officials, and this isn't it. Your 'college student' mayor is working toward a Masters Degree. It sounds as if some of the reporters at this paper could try for some postgraduate work in communication with each other. Your undergraduate classes in sarcasm seemed to have paid off, though.

Hey, some of us like the mayor, and some don't for their own reasons, but one could at least hope that professional journalists could get their stories straight.


  1. Television news is a joke. Like a seventy year old hooker looking for meth money; advertising rates get bloated, more money gets pumped into a show, and suddenly you've got the 'Goldline Cialis Variety Hour featuring Hannity and Cher' running 24/7 on your network.

  2. And I used to really enjoy television news... but now I watch the Colbert Report, and learn more than watching Fox or MSNBC.

  3. It's pretty hard finding objective TV news, granted. Currently, I'm going with NBC.

    And local TV news? By my reckoning, that's been vying for the title of 'Longest Running Comedy' for a couple of decades now...

  4. And you're right, but if you can believe it, local people are actually swayed by local news! It kills me.