There’s Bias In The News
Published: February 28th, 2017
By: Tom Morgan

Here is how bias has seeped into the news you receive.

Used to be news was news. Not much coloring to it. Reporters were trained to keep their biases to themselves. And to write news straight. If a reporter colored the news the editors squelched it.

How about opinion? That was left to columnists like me. And to the editorial pages. And to feature articles. Like those of this paper. When you read them you knew you were getting opinion.

This was true of newspapers. And true of tv and radio news.

The news was “A major fire swept through the forest.” News colored to the left was “The forest fell victim to global warming as a fire swept through it.” News colored to the right was “Neglect by green-loving foresters has led to a major fire in the forest.”

It was those colorations that editors purged from news reports. That was then. These days reporters commonly inject their biases into the news. Often in subtle ways.

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Used to be if reporters ran a comment from someone on a touchy subject they also ran an opposing comment. In the news, this was: This global warming expert blames the fire on rising temperatures the last few years. However, this forester says poor management by rangers has turned the forest into a tinderbox.

These days we see less of this balance. We often see comments from only one side of an issue.

Used to be big papers covered the major issues of the day. As did the big network news shows. Oh, they were never perfect. They played their favorites. If there was news that made their side look bad, they often minimized their coverage. While they maximized their coverage of whatever made their side look good.

These days too many big news outfits go overboard with this. They utterly ignore stories of major importance. For months. Because they feel those stories will harm their position. Their candidate is accused of corruption? They bury two paragraphs on page 44 with the cooking news. The opposing candidate says the wrong word? They plaster it on page one.

TV news guys do the equivalent.

What do we cover? And what slant will we give it? Those are big questions in big newsrooms. There were times in the recent campaign when the New York Times ran five stories in one day about one candidate. Five! All slanted the same way.

This kind of journalism mistreats readers and viewers. It abuses them. These customers are not dumb. They know. They sense what big media does to the news.

These days Americans tell pollsters they don’t trust their media to tell them the truth. And their mistrust has grown over the last 20 years. Journalists are puzzled by this. They wonder aloud why they have lost ground on the trust front.

Too many journalists doubled up on the crusading courses in journalism schools. The courses that revved them up to change the world. To shove truth in the face of power. And all that stuff.

They should have spent more time on courses that taught them to cover news as news. I don’t know if journalism schools even bother with such courses any more.

Used to be reporters learned stood up to power with solid reporting of facts. This is what happened. Here is who told us. Here are the official figures. Here is the accusation. Here is the denial. Here is one side’s opinion. Here is the other side’s. If you want more opinions, go to today’s editorials.

In that era more people felt they could trust what they read and saw of big news. Those disciplines and standards of journalism have evaporated. Along with the trust people once had for our news industry.

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From Tom…as in Morgan.