Media Bias?Do you feel that American media has a particular bias?  If so, do you feel it borders on propaganda?  Why or why not?

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do.  TV Media often misrepresents an issue or beats us in the head with images to prejudice the public against or for an issue or person. 

For instance, the TV Media completely attacked Sarah Palin in the last election and since to the point that the woman may never be able to win a major election. She is a real person--not like the canned politicians we all see who have been groomed much like a prince to be a future King.  She and her family were brutally attacked and unfairly maligned. In the same way, the media portrayed President Obama as the great black hope who would ride in on a beautiful mare and rescue us all from the deep dark muddy mire in which we've all been living.  While some of what he has done is to be commended, he hasn't exactly rescued us from anything.  I'm not sure we've even seen the prices are increasing, housing is a shambles, gas prices are so high no one but the very rich can afford them, and there are still too many people working in the White House whose jobs are absolutely necessary.

Another example is the way the TV media portrays the BP oil spill as the greatest and farthest-reaching tragedy since the beginning of time.  The pictures of that oil-covered bird showed up so often that he is permanently burned into everyone's brain.  While the economic strain on the people who fish and make their living from tourism in the south has definitely been evident, much of it is because the media made people believe that beaches were covered in sticky black oil and that the water was not fit for swimming.  Friends of mine who live there tell a different story, and in fact, they have resorted to Facebook and other social networking systems to show people that the beaches are clear, the water is beautiful, and the seafood is safe to eat--just so they can attract the tourists who would have normally been there except for the prejudice instilled in them by the media's irresponsible coverage.

Media is owned by big business.  They no longer have any ethics.  They report what their bosses tell them to report because that news is in the best interest of their own pocketbooks. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think that the media as a whole has a bias.  After all, the New York Times and Fox News hardly have the same agenda.  So the only bias that the media as a whole has is a bias in favor of creating and/or reporting conflict.  I think the media tends to focus on conflict because conflict makes for easily understood story lines.

As far as individual media outlets go, they certainly do have bias.  However, I believe the bias shows up more in their editorials and in their choices of what to print or broadcast.  In other words, I don't believe the New York Times lies in their articles or even that they try to spin facts in those articles.  I think the bias comes in their editorials (where it's acceptable) and in the fact that they choose to seek out and print stories that will illustrate a liberal point of view.

Is it propaganda?  I don't think it goes that far.  Bloggers certainly do, but I don't think the media as a whole has sunk that far yet.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I agree with Post 2 that each media company has their own bias. Some are able to talk about both sides even though they clearly agree with one side over the other. Other media companies only show one side and often lie or spin facts to fit their view. I think some media companies have taken it too far. Personally, I would consider Fox News to be mostly conservative propaganda (although I'm sure not everyone shares that opinion). As a whole, American media does seem to be particularly bias in a selfish sort of way. All news, even national news, is spun into how it will effect Americans. For example, much of the news on the nuclear crisis in Japan was turned to focus on how America would react in such a situation. The news of the radiation being swept out to sea was looked at from the perspective of how it would effect California. Post 3 pointed out a similar reporting style on the oil spill in the gulf. Perhaps, all countries have a similar type of bias.
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bias is a pejorative term which suggests that journalists have an agenda. Certainly all journalists and the media which they represent have a certain point of view. There is no such thing as a truly unbiased person; after all, the sun only shines on one half the earth at one time.

The media often state that their role is to help shape public opinion. In shaping that public opinion the point of view of the individual journalist will be a factor. Fox News may choose to emphasize--or deemphasize--certain elements of a story whereas MSNBC may take an entirely different tack. Fox New's claim to be "fair and balanced" to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no such thing as a truly unbiased form of media--until the Almighty himself gets in the journalism business.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bias is everywhere, but to different degrees in different types of media.  Network news and cable news seem to have different degrees of bias, as the target audience of one is narrower than the other.  PBS and NPR are non-profit and partly publicly funded, and therefore have less motivation for bias, less reason to please advertisers and sponsors.  Talk radio is overwhelmingly biased towards conservative and neo-conservative points of view, in part because the average age of the audience member for radio is much older than that of TV and the internet.

Being able to recognize bias when you see it and to find out the formats of news and information that at least acknowledge or try to balance their bias is the important part.

bigdreams1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oh boy, do I have 2 cents to add to this. I worked in several tv and radio news outlets before I left the fine world of the media and went into education. From my experience there is little doubt that most of the media has a left-leaning slant to its reporting. Just by what they chose to cover and the words they used to describe the people they were covering, it was obvious where their loyalties lay. Next time you turn on a newscast or read a newspaper, keep an eye out for adjectives and adverbs. A good reporter knows to stay away from them as much as possible as they reflect a bias on the part of the writer that is not supposed to be included in objective newswriting. However, that staple of journalism has all but disappeared.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes. Media is biased. The media is biased in that it will sensationalize stories in order to garner more readers or viewers. In addition, while the media as a whole might not lean one way or the other with regard to politics, the different media outlets will report based on the philosophy of their head or parent groups. For example, why did some people nickname CNN as the "Clinton News Network?" In my experience, it seems as if conservatives watch Fox News Network, and the more liberal people I know watch CNN. This would have to be the result of bias in the media.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it is probably impossible to find any media that is truly impartial. Sorry to be cynical about it, but there you go. I guess there is always a sense in which there is no such thing as true objectivity, as we all have our own personal bias that will shape how we present information. It is interesting that #5 points towards the way that people watch particular channels based on their own political allegiance. In Britain, it is definitely the same with people religiously reading newspapers depending on what party they support.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

News outlets most certainly have a bias one way or another. Most of the reason for the bias is to attract more viewers or readers, as someone else has mentioned we tend to see a sensationalized view of most news stories. There also are political bias's as mentioned by someone else, it is very difficult during election time to sort out the truth about a candidate based solely on the news as reported. However, I do not believe the United States media practices true propaganda.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I have very little faith in media. It is too commercialized. Every station, program and newspaper out there has an agenda: to make money! In order to do this, they identify a target audience and pander to it shamelessly. Even the supposedly legitimate news programs an newspapers have a bias. People tend to seek out the media outlet that reflects their views, so they get what they pay for. Everyone gets their news in his favorite flavor.