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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Kent Bush: Difference between news and opinion

  • There is a reason newspapers only include one page of opinion per day. It is important, but opinion is nothing but hot air compared with the real fact-gathering, story-telling hard news story.

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  • If there is one general rule that is overblown, it is liberal media bias.
    There are a lot of liberal people in the media. They tend to be artistic personalities that associate better with liberal ideals.
    But as far as bias goes, that is an abject failure in news coverage that is more a symptom of poor quality than bias. Please remember the difference between news and opinion.
    Rush Limbaugh does not do a news program. He comments about news stories. He is biased.
    But when you ask a conservative person their opinion on an issue, what do you expect to receive? The same standard is true for liberal commentators. Rachel Maddow will sound liberal when expressing her opinion. But if she is worth a nickel, when she reports the news, you won’t be able to determine her slant or even notice that she has an opinion.
    There is a difference between a pundit and a reporter. Sometimes the same people can play both roles, but that has to happen in separate venues.
    I think, in most cases, it does.
    On Monday, several studies were released that showed Mitt Romney received more favorable coverage than unfavorable. President Barack Obama received far more unfavorable coverage than Romney.
    The conclusion drawn was that this disproves liberal media bias. Not necessarily.
    The news is the news. If you do dumb things, the stories are going to be unfavorable. But that is not the result of bias. If Obama does 80 dumb things and 20 good things, and the news coverage for him is only 60 percent unfavorable, there is still a liberal bias in his favor.
    If Romney did 90 good things and 10 dumb things but 30 percent of the coverage was unfavorable, then the bias still exists. I am certain that there is a natural leftward leaning to some news. It isn’t a vast conspiracy. It’s reality.
    Here is the making of a news story: An event happens. A reporter gathers the facts. A reporter then writes a story based on what they believe to be the important parts of the story. Because the reporter is telling a story, the way they organize the facts also involves technique, style and perspective.
    A liberal person will frame and tell a story differently than a conservative person. There may not be any intent to sway the reader at all. There is no bias. There is just personality and perception.
    Imagine two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters are both assigned to do a story. The event they are to cover is a huge religious convention. One reporter is a Muslim and the other is a Baptist. Even if both make a supreme effort not to reveal bias in their work, I am sure the difference in the coverage would be stark.
    Page 2 of 2 - A Muslim would perceive the events differently than the Christian reporter. What they saw as pertinent to the story would be very different. That is not bias. Reporters aren’t robots.
    If news gatherers are self-aware enough to know how their worldview can hurt their reporting, they can take steps to limit the effects. The media is not trying to win you over to the dark side.
    What they are trying to do is provide information in such a way that their product becomes indispensable to you so that advertisers see the benefit of being included in and around that product. That leads to profit. We all have to pay the bills.
    Stop tilting at windmills and blaming every creak in your floor on the boogey man. Look for real news where facts are reported, supported and documented. Make pundits and commentators a smaller part of your news consumption.
    There is a reason newspapers only include one page of opinion per day. It is important, but opinion is nothing but hot air compared with the real fact-gathering, story-telling hard news story.

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