Detecting Bias in the Media Today
Do you ever listen to or hear a news story telling important information in the news, and feel like there is something missing? Then later hear another news story telling the same information, but from a different perspective? What you are detecting in the story is bias, and while journalists are trained not to write stories with bias, many news companies, publishers, and even the journalists themselves write news articles from a slanted viewpoint.
An example of an article depicting bias is Peter Baker’s recent article titled White House looks to Syria Vote as Rudder for Rest of Term. The article encompasses Obama’s new decision to enter Syria to help hinder impending chemical warfare. The reason that this decision is incredibly important regarding world politics, as well as national politics, is that this decision, according to Baker, could define Obama’s foreign policy for his next three years in office.
The article focuses on the relationship and behaviors between President Obama and Vladimir Putin, President of Russia at a meeting between world leaders in St. Petersburg. The relationship is described as awkward and tense, and consistently increasing as the meeting went on. Obama was portrayed as an outcast in this article, with every other individual giving him the cold shoulder because of his decision regarding Syria. This is questionable information, because the opinion told is exclusively told as something the American people would like to hear, rather than explaining the perspectives of the other countries included in the meeting. While Americans may not be happy with Obama’s decision regarding Syria, this article certainly portrays the decision as a crucial and necessary decision.
This portrayal is a good depiction of bias in the media. We as a nation want our decisions to be the best, and our leader to be strong, as any other nation. This article shows Obama as the underdog, sticking to his decision as doing the righteous thing, even without the help of other nations. The article was told only from the perspective of the American people, and simply regarded Obama’s views. To eliminate this bias, the article should tell the view from Putin, at the very least, as he was a large bouncing board for the writer to tell Obama’s perspective, the article would then be more factual, and show the ideas of both world leaders. This way the reader would be able to interpret the behaviors and standpoint on the issue on his or her own.
Making decisions, opinions, assumptions, and forming ideas on one’s own is crucial to critical thinking, and critical evaluations, such as detecting bias in the media is important so that we all understand the distinctions between truths and opinions. The reason this is important is because truth is universal and absolute, while opinions and views are interchangeable depending on the individual, group, culture, society, and government. Linda Elder and Richard Paul put together several questions we ask ourselves when critically analyzing information that help us learn how to discern our opinions, assumptions, and views from the truth. These questions lead through different aspects of bias and thinking, from “It’s true if I believe it”, and “It’s true if it serves our vested interest to believe it”, to “I believe it, but it may not be true”, to finally explaining what happens in the media today, and this story specifically “these are the facts that support our way of looking at this; therefore, these are the most important facts”. It is important to detect these biases to understand a full, and complete truth.
Baker, P. (2013, September 5). White house looks to syria vote as rudder for rest of term. The new york times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/06/world/europe/obama-arrives-in-russia-for-g20-summit.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&hp
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2008). The thinker’s guide for conscientious citizens on how to detect media bias & propaganda in national and world news. The apollo group.