Saturday, August 18, 2007

On media bias

This piece by Dan Gardner in the Ottawa Citizen concludes that accusations of media bias are the product of partisanerie from the audience, not the fault of the media.

I understand what he's getting at, but I don't agree that it's all the audience's fault.

I don't have a problem with a reporter having a perspective. Everyone has a perspective. You cannot report on a story without assumptions about the world.

So if one reporter is biased in a liberal way, that's not the problem.

The problem to me is that the journalistic profession in general leans centre-left.

Tell me: how many social conservative reporters do you know who are working on Canadian network television?

Not too many.

You might argue:social conservatives don't generally choose journalism as a profession. That's a fair point to make, but it's precisely because they don't want to be surrounded by liberals and have to work in a liberal atmosphere. Plus there's the sense that even if a so-con were to graduate, his views would become known and he would not be hired.

You can tell the media is liberal by the words they use. Take, for instance, what they call pro-lifers: "Anti-abortion". Now, it's true that pro-lifers are "anti-abortion". But they do not say what they're FOR. Editors do not want to imply that those who support legalized abortion are against life. Okay, fair enough. Find some other word. "Anti-abortion" does not adequately describe the ideology of the who support the right to life for unborn children. Personally, I think "fetal rights activists" or "unborn rights activists" should gain credence. It's absolutely accurate, and the opposition is against rights for the unborn.

I do not disagree with the far left that network television is biased against their perspective, as well. Network television assumes that the capitalist system is good (or at least preferable) to a centralized, planned economy. It assumes a heterosexual norm for the most part.

But I think the media is far more sympathetic to the far left than to social conservatives. I think the assumption is that: everyone's going to think like they do in thirty years anyway, so we might as well get used to it now.

I'm not against people being "biased" in the sense of having a perspective. What I object to is that the laws and regulations that effectively govern the media shut out other perspectives. There should be a wide variety of journalistic programming on the air, but we don't get that.

I think that if the airwaves were much less regulated, we would get a richer diversity of programming. The CRTC is supposedly trying to make things fair. I don't think it's fair at all.

I especially don't think the CBC is fair, either. The CBC is supposed to represent the voice of Canadians, and I certainly don't feel represented by it. When the CBC finds a panel, you know it's going to be a radical lefty, a lefty and a moderate lefty. You won't find Michael Coren doing too many interviews there.

Why can't they have a real diversity of voices-- heck, get a hardcore socialist, a kool-aid drinking Liberal and a hardcore social conservative.

Now that would be interesting.

I think this is one reason why people turn to blogs: because there's no pretense of being objective, and people can get to the nitty-gritty, the wide variety of views. When the CBC (and other networks) pretend that they include a wide variety of views on a show, it's absolutely false. The opinions and panelists presented coalesce around the centre, and everyone goes through this formality of making like it represents the whole political spectrum. In the blogosphere, you really do get everything, and it really is a hodgepodge of points of view, and people are biased, but by reading all these points of view, you are far more likely to be informed about what people are saying (not necessarily on what's true) than if you just watched network tv or read the papers.

I really think that if the media could appeal to that wide a variety of points of view, it could redeem itself. But I don't think that's going to happen.

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