Media matters

February 20, 2011


Every day you watch or read about how our country is in trouble and who’s to blame for it.   Some media outlets blame the right; others blame the left. But how much blame do the media deserve in all this? After all, they are the ones with the ability to deliver the news to a large audience and to decide how that news will be delivered. They are the filters, conduits, or buffers for the stories happening around us. Without the media, we would not know what is happening or why. We would have no idea who our leaders are, who the future leaders will be, and why these leaders believe what they do. So, since most of us won’t get to spend a few days with our future leaders, discussing the issues, searching their hearts, and picking their brains, we must rely on media to do it for us. Think about it. We are putting a huge amount of trust in our news sources. Huge!

Realizing this, it is in our best interest to find out about the people bringing us some of the most important information we will ever need. Are they fair? Are they balanced? Do they have an interest in the outcome of an election? Are they objective? What is their motivation for deciding which stories they will cover and how they will cover them? And if they lie, how will we know about it?

So, since we are putting a huge amount of trust in these people, it is our responsibility to do a little homework. Let’s start by asking ourselves if they have an agenda. It would be great to think that they are only interested in bringing us the news and how it happened, but sadly, that just isn’t a reality.

Seriously, do we actually think that a person starts a newspaper, buys a radio station, or runs a cable news outlet without having something to say? Are we naïve to think that they aren’t trying to sway our opinions? News media is BIG business and with any business, you must have a market. There has to be a group of  people who buys or buys into what you are selling. The news business is no different from any other business. It has to promote itself, generate publicity, and keep you tuned in. Unfortunately that means they may use sensationalism, fear, sex, or the flavors of the week to get your attention.

Media outlets will brand themselves, try to seem superior, ridicule the competition, and even manipulate you into believing what they want you to believe. They will lie, cheat, and do whatever else to make you think what they want. Think about what goes on in an editing room. They have bright people taking bits of information and framing it into something they can air on TV. They will use certain color schemes to subtly convey an emotion.  They will use sounds to suggest how you should react. They’ll take pictures, sound bites, and video clips ALL to frame the story how they want you to see it. They don’t just think about what it is, but what can be done with it and how they can use it to their advantage, slyly suggesting or subtly hinting the way you should react.

Every big outlet does it. Fox steers you towards the right and MSNBC, CNN, and others lead you to the left. They are all biased, hold double standards, and are not concerned with anything resembling the truth. It is business, pure and simple.

I urge you to dissect the news programs you watch. Look for the use of sound, color, camera angles, and certain language and see how they are trying to lead you on. They are very sly, so legally they won’t come right out and reveal their bias; they will just suggest it and hope you take the bait.  Or they might immediately segue into something else, so that the old topic and the new one appear related, even if they aren’t.

It is not the story; it is what can be done with it.

-Edited by Maggie Smith

*Some resources on how to detect bias and some specific examples of them.


One Comment on “Media matters”

  1. Maggie Says:

    This is very nice! I like the links you added – good way to illustrate the points you made. 🙂


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