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MEDIA BIAS & OBJECTIVITY By: Shareef & Monica Objectivity It is, expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • By
  • Shareef Monica

  • It is, expressing or dealing with facts or
    conditions as perceived without distortion by
    personal feelings, prejudices, or
  • Journalistic objectivity has two components.
  • The first is 'depersonalization' which means that
    journalists should not overtly express their own
    views, evaluations, or beliefs.

  • The second is 'balance' which involves presenting
    the views of representatives of both sides of a
    controversy without favouring one side.
  • There are some conventions in order to attain the
  • authoritative sources, such as politicians must
    be quoted

  • 'fact' must be separated from 'opinion
  • and 'hard news' from 'editorial comment'
  • and the presentation of information must be
    structured pyramidically
  • The ideal of objectivity gives journalists
    legitimacy as independent and credible sources of

  • It also ensures a certain degree of autonomy to
    journalists and freedom from regulation to media
  • However, news reporting involves 
  • judgements about what is a good story,
  • who will be interviewed for it,
  • what questions will be asked,

  • which parts of those interviews will be printed
    or broadcast,
  • what facts are relevant and how the story is

  • According to David Brook, a famous American
    journalist there are five steps to achieve
  • 1. The first stage is what somebody called
    negative capacity the ability to suspend
  • 2. The second stage is modesty.
  • 3. The third stage of objectivity is the
    ability to process data

  • 4. The fourth stage of objectivity is the ability
    to betray friends.
  • 5. The fifth stage of objectivity is the ability
    to ignore stereotypes.

  • What does objectivity mean to a reporter?
  • To be an objective reporter is to report an
    event or series of events in a way that does not
    reflect the reporters attitudes about the events
    and people involved.

  • How much objectivity is possible?
  • Of three people watching the same event,
    one might see a demonstration, one might see a
    protest, and one might see a riot- and each will
    report the incident differently.
  • Because psychologists have taught us that we
    enter every situation with a set- that is, a
    number of beliefs, expectations, and attitudes
    that determine what we notice and how we
    interpret what we observe.

  • Does lack of objectivity lead to loss of
    confidence among the public?
  • Complaint about the lack of objectivity in
    media are frequent, both in print and visual
    media. It results in the loss of confidence on
    the part of the news-consuming public in what is
    reported to them.

  • The Objectivity is myth in Journalism?
  • On closer examination, objectivity is easier to
    define than it is to attain in practice
  • Because the world is a subjective construct
    unique to each person . For example
  • several witnesses see a traffic accident no
    one could survive. Nonetheless, nobody is hurt.

  • All the witnesses see, objectively, the same
    event. Yet, what they "see" differs according to
    how they filter the information a devoutly
    religious person will see the hand of God in
    sparing the victims a politician may see a
    necessity for government action to make that
    intersection safer an attorney may see a
    potential lawsuit a sexist may blame a driver of
    the opposite sex.

  • For the people to describe the world they have
    created on the basis of what they have perceived.
  • Even words are notoriously slippery things no
    word means the same thing to everybody or even
  • for example

  • The lead in a news story might be, "There was a
    demonstration in downtown Mumbai today." What
    does "demonstration" mean a protest march, a
    sales show, an example during a lecture? Where
    exactly is "downtown Mumbai"? When is "today"?

  • Objectivity is very hard to attain in the present
    scenario where every media are inclined towards
    certain policies.

What is Media Bias?
  • Media bias is a term used to describe a real or
    perceived bias of journalists and news producers
    within the mass media, in the selection of which
    events will be reported and how they are covered.
  • The direction and degree of media bias in
    various countries is widely disputed.

History of Bias in Media
  • Political bias has been a feature of the mass
    media since its birth with the invention of the
    printing press. The expense of early printing
    equipment restricted media production to a
    limited number of people. Historians have found
    that publishers often served the interests of
    powerful social groups.
  • In the nineteenth century, journalists began
    to recognize the concept of unbiased reporting
    as an integral part of journalistic ethics.

Role of Language in Media Bias
  • Mass media, despite its ability to project
    worldwide, is limited in its cross-ethnic
    compatibility by one simple attribute --
    language. Language, in the absence of
    translation, comprises a barrier to a worldwide
    community of debate and opinion.
  • The choice of language of mass media may
    represent a bias towards the group most likely to
    speak that language, and can limit the public
    participation by those who do not speak the

Types of Bias
  • Bias by omission Bias by leaving one side out
    of an issue, or a series of articles over a
    period of time ignoring facts that tend to
    disapprove their claims and beliefs.
  • Bias by selection of sources - Including more
    sources that support one view over another.  This
    bias can also be seen when a reporter uses such
    phrases as "experts believe", "observers say," or
    "most people believe". 
  • The stories which include experts, make sure
    that an equal number of experts from both sides
    of the issue are quoted.  If a story quotes
    non-experts, check that an equal number come from
    both sides of the issue in question.

  • Bias by story selection - Highlighting news
    stories that coincide with the agenda of one
    political party while ignoring stories that
    coincide with the agenda of the other.
  • Bias by placement - Story placement is a measure
    of how important the editor considers the story
    and where does he place it.
  • To locate examples of bias by placement,
    observe where a newspaper places political
  • Bias by spin - Bias by spin occurs when the story
    has only one interpretation of an event or
    policy, to the exclusion of the other spin
    involves tone - it's a reporter's subjective
    comments about objective facts makes one side's
    ideological perspective look better than

Examples of Media Bias
  • Ethnic or racial bias which including racism,
  • Corporate bias, the reporting of issues to favor
    the interests of the owners of the news media and
    the corporate. (Eg. IPL coverage,Rupert Murdoch
  • Class bias, Including bias favoring one social
    class and ignoring the other. (Eg. Aarushi murder
    case, Scarlett murder case)

  • Political bias, including bias in favor of or
    against a particular political party, candidate,
    or policy. (Eg. Sakshi supports Congress
    Eenadu supports TDP, Jaya TV etc.)
  • Religious bias, including bias in which one
    religious or non religious viewpoint is given
    preference over others. (Matha Prasanna case)
  • Sensationalism, which is bias in favor of the
    exceptional over the ordinary. This includes the
    practice whereby exceptional news may be
    overemphasized, distorted or fabricated to boost
    commercial ratings. (Eg Rakhi Sawant and Mika
    case, Abhishek Aishwarya wedding)

  • Ideological bias based on personal philosophy
    which may include liberalism, conservativism,
    progressivism, communism, etc.
  • Peer culture bias Bias based on popular
    opinions of one's peer group which may include
    environmentalism, anti-globalization, etc.
  • Bias based on sex, age, background, education,
    language, among others.
  • Bias toward ease or expediency This can be a
    tendency to present information which is already
    widely reported in other news media. This type of
    bias is largely attributed to the relatively low
    cost of presenting these stories compared to
    investigative journalism.(Eg. Michelle Obama
    pregnancy, US elections news)

How to Detect Bias in News Media?
  • Who are the sources?
  • Be aware of the political perspective of
    the sources used in a story. Media over-rely on
    official(government, corporate etc.) sources.
  • Count the number of corporate and government
    sources versus the number of minority voices.
    Demand mass media to expand their spectrum.
  • Is there a lack of diversity?
  • What is the race and gender diversity at
    the news outlet compared to the communities it
    serves? In order to fairly represent different
    communities, news outlets should have members of
    those communities in decision-making positions.
  • Demand that the media you consume reflect the
    diversity of the public they serve.

  • 3. From whose point of view is the news reported?
  • Political coverage often focuses on how issues
    affect politicians or corporate executives rather
    than those directly affected by the issue.
  • Demand that those affected by the issue have a
    voice in coverage.
  • 4. Are there double standards?
  • Do media hold some people to one standard
    while using a different standard for other
  • Expose the double standard by coming up with a
    parallel example or citing similar stories that
    were covered differently.

  • 5. Are stories on important issues featured
  • Look at where stories appear. Newspaper
    articles on the most widely read pages and lead
    stories on television and radio will have the
    greatest influence on public opinion.
  • When you see a story on government officials
    engaged in activities that violate the law on the
    back pages, call the newspaper and object. Let
    the paper know how important you feel an issue is
    and demand that important stories get prominent

For the Consumers
  • The real purpose is to identify some of the
    systemic causes for what appears to be a bias in
    the news media. Most journalists sincerely
    believe they are doing the right thing -- and
    they probably are. But some of the macro-scale
    factors at work around them make it impossible
    for their work to seem neutral or fair or
    balanced, no matter how hard they might try. The
    better we understand those larger factors, the
    better we're able to change our expectations as
    consumers and address those larger factors in a
    way that could make reporting better for

Points to Ponder
  • Government and advertisers are the greatest
    sources of revenue for the media. So is the media
    justified to be biased towards them?
  • The demand for sensational news is more, so
    should media cater to their consumers demands and
    be biased towards sensational issues over the
    important ones?
  • Are the journalists justified to be biased
    towards the side they feel is more truthful?
  • What could be done to check bias in the media?

  • Mass media not only report the newsthey also
    literally make the news. Do you agree with this
    statement ?
  • Does lack of objectivity lead to loss of
    confidence among the public?
  • How much objectivity is possible?