If you have a preconceived mentality that a section of the media is biased, it does reflect in how you see the stories of that section of the media. The vice versa also holds. It is all about framing: how people have framed the media, and largely, how the media have given room for people to frame them.
One of the most difficult tasks news writers face is to maintain balance. Objectivity, I believe is very difficult to maintain these days. Balance is quite achievable, but the writer’s quest to achieve balance in news stories is what opens them up for scrutiny. It is allowed; for the public is the consumer of the news.
However, news consumers must also understand the intricacies of news dissemination. The failure to do this is what always fuels those unwarranted confrontations. I am not oblivious of the fact that the consumers are also discerning. I remember this favourite saying of Former Asante Kotoko Chairman Dr. K.K. Sarpong, who always reminded the team’s coaches that if they knew how to coach, the spectators and management were equally versatile in their own way when it came to analyzing the game.
This however does not arrogate powers of attack on journalists and bloggers when news stories do not favour news makers. Some have sold their conscience; I know, but disrespecting the people you will need to promote yourself, is “someway be” (apologies to M.anifest).
Shouldn’t we all understand the fact thatthe media does not only report the news, they create the news by deciding what to report? And to a larger extent, how to report it? The “HOW” is what a lot of people seem to have issues with.
There are so many ways that media people, in their presentation, can show open bias. The same way, consumers also show open bias, by failing to recognize the work of the media. I will, where necessary use real examples in our showbiz arena to help make the point.
Bias by omission is simply leaving a party that is involved in a story or issue out of the equation. Media houses are sometimes blamed for ignoring certain stories or personalities, for example and always tackling others. For example, certain musicians and their managers often blame radio personalities of “neglecting” them, and always favoring others. Certain bloggers are even accused of not writing stories about certain artistes. So how do the “accusers” position themselves to be favoured “biasedly’?
Selection of Sources
This type of bias– bias by selection of sources– is where sources that have similar view points on an issue are assembled to make a story. By extension, it is like having Mr. Beautiful, Ola Michael and John Dumelo, with Bull Dog as producer, on a panel to discuss the success of the Akufo-Addo government. Am I not being bias even with my example? Couldn’t these showbiz personalities be objective in their analysis if they were empanelled? And how do we test how balanced so called neutrals will even be?
Selection of Stories and Placement
Bias by selection of stories is a major headache for many media outlets. News selection is exclusive to media houses, based on several factors: house style, philosophy, interest, economic consideration, etc.
So sometimes when certain front page stories are questioned, or how a front page of a newspaper must look like, or why a blogger must carry a particular angle to a story, and not the other, or even why a particular story wasn’t given as much attention as another, I wonder. Let the “bias” of the media house show based on whatever interest they have in this free enterprise economy.
Bias by labelling occurs when a group of people are tagged or framed with something, often to the advantage of another group. What will make a media news outlet be tagged? Because of people read elements of bias in their work, which may not necessarily be true, anyway.
On another level, labelling, which comes with titles, has become quite hazy for news writers. The use of titles like Dancehall King/ Queen/ Dada, Founder of Hiplife, Rap God/King in news stories, when not handled well, creates unnecessary suspicion of bias. Why should a blogger or journalist be objective in a news story when they endorse titles people have conferred on themselves?
For example, why should I, a reporter tag MzVee as Dancehall Queen, or Reggie as Founder of Hiplife, or Mr. Logic as Dancehall Dada? Best practices require that such labels are institutionalised. Otherwise implying, for example that D Black is the best artiste in Ghana in a non-opinion piece, will be disingenuous.
At the professional level, attributions become very important to ward off all traces of biasness. “Samini, the self-acclaimed African Dancehall King…” “Reggie Rockstone, who is widely believed to be the founder of rap in Ghana…” and “Mr. Logic, who claims to the Father of Dancehall in Ghana,…” are very apt and journalist! To contend this, you will be doing what you claim news writers do.
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