Below is a perfect example, published just yesterday, of biased journalism. It’s very short, I promise. Please take a moment to read it and then we will do a quick analysis of it’s journalistic integrity. http://insider.foxnews.com/2017/01/...
RED FLAG #1: The “quote” they put in the headline is not a quote at all. They actually used a single stroke parenthetical so they could paraphrase. That would be all well and good except an actual journalist, with journalistic integrity, would only paraphrase someone if they feel the paraphrase conveyed the intended message and tonality of the person they are paraphrasing. Not only is this paraphrase purposefully making the quote more divisive, they used it in the headline. They are doing this to garner more emotion from their readers, traction for the article, and therefor advertising dollars.
RED FLAG #2: The first sentence chooses the phrase “reportedly issued an expletive-laden threat”. They have chosen the word “reportedly” so that they can now summarize what others have reported, regardless of fact, and simply call it fact. 24 Hour News cycles often use the phrase “some have said...” before saying something completely flagerent or agenda pushing. By doing so they are finding a way to say whatever they want, and often the only person they are quoting is simply the host of the previous hours show. But now that “someone” said it, it’s cannon. This article isn’t especially guilty of taking advantage of this to an extreme, but it’s an easy way to “cover your ass” when deciding to create an exaggerated narrative for clicks.
RED FLAG #3: Exaggeration. They chose to state “expletive-laden threat” to evoke as much anger as possible. They don’t place the video on their page. They don’t offer a full quote to fully substantiate their summary. All of these are red flags that immediately told me watching this mans actual statement wouldn’t resonate at all as they describe. And it didn’t: http://bcove.me/w6d87prx To summarize that concern, with that one sentence in mind, as an expletive-laden threat is technically not false. But to describe his single use of the word “ass” as “expletive-laden”, and then summarize the statements so casually that one would assume he spoke at length in threatening fashion, is just blatant exaggeration and biased news making.
RED FLAG #4: Lack of context. They give a quick summary of the painting describing only the point of contention without showing you an actual picture of the painting or giving more context. And to be honest, didn’t the way they describe it make it sound like it was a painting solely “depicting police officers as pigs”? But it’s not. It’s not something so obscene that it garners omission. Here, take a look: http://bit.ly/2jm8dxn We could break down at length the many messages one could take from this piece. Or how a black man being shown as a wolf could have it’s own negative meaning. Or how there is a second police officer not depicted as a pig in the painting. But obviously the main point is that this is a painting about so much more than the narrative this terribly bias article is feeding readers.
RED FLAG #5: More lack of context. They spend an entire ONE sentence explaining the context of “where?” “what?” “how?” “who?” and “why?” on behalf of the condemned side of the story. The obvious question of “why it was hung?” is brushed upon in that one sentence but really answers nothing. Especially considering the article at this point has led readers to believe it is simply a painting depicting police as pigs, and nothing more. Real news doesn’t look like this. Real news doesn’t leave obvious questions unanswered.
If you are curious, like I was, about what the real full story was behind this divisive agenda building headline, here’s what an actual news article looks like: http://politi.co/2iBvyKz
Now if you are someone who reads the news often, or could be described as a news junkie, I’m sure you recognized most of those red flags almost immediately. But since most people in this world are busy running their own lives, businesses and families, from all levels of educational backgrounds and career focuses, most people don’t have the time or experience to know when they are being fed a biased story-line.
And with that concern in mind, all I can do is talk directly to you normal non-news-junkie people directly with a hard truth: Only you can change how you digest information. Only you can hold yourself responsible for understanding the integrity, motives and reality behind what you are choosing to digest. There is no quick solution. All I can do is help and hope you learn how to ask the next question. And when it seems someone is purposefully ignoring the obvious next question, or is purposefully denying you an answer to what is a very reasonable next question, that is when you should wonder the next most important question “Why?”.
As a general rule of thumb, if someone is purposefully removing nuance from a story, conversation or debate, they are probably doing so in order to deflect from a losing argument they are more comfortable holding onto than discussing honestly. Or in the case of bias news organizations, they obscure facts to perpetuate a narrative that fosters easily mislead and emotional masses into clicking, watching and reading, so the organization can make more money.
So with that in mind, be careful what you digest, because you are what you eat.
- Chad Becker -
"The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it." -Alberto Brandalini
"Hey look! It's that stuff I wrote that totally proves I am capable of writing impactful, clear messages." -CB