Media-Unbiased & Objective?? Essay, Research Paper
The media has tremendous power to shape the political agenda, shape our images of politicians and policies, and to influence our images of our society and ourselves. From this, the question arises whether it s possible to have an unbiased and objective news coverage. The answer to that is a simple no.
Media content and news coverage is definitely affected by the views, ideals, and interests of those who seek out, write, and produce news and other stories. Take for example reporters. They often have the freedom to interpret and evaluate stories that they are covering. As a result, they have an opportunity to slip in their views and ideals into the news stories. Take for instance the time when Richard Nixon was president. Many Americans as well as reporters felt a certain distrust and dislike for him. Eventually the negative attitudes that were felt by the reporters ended up in the news coverage. Also, take for example Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy. The personal friendship and respect that some reporters felt for them helped to generate more favorable news coverage for these presidents.
But at times, with all the freedom that reporters have with the news, it can be questioned whether Americans can separate the facts from the interpretations by the reporters. Since most Americans depend upon the media to investigate wrongdoing, to publicize and explain governmental actions, to evaluate programs and politicians, and to bring out information that is only known by a few governmental insiders, many Americans cannot separate the facts from the interpretations. Most just go along with what is being told, do the accepted thing (be conformists), and don t really take the time to investigate the issues themselves.
Besides reporters, influence by the individuals or groups who are the subject of the news also make it impossible for a news coverage to be unbiased and objective. Politicians are famous for this. They tend to form good relations with reporters in order to shape or manipulate their media images. Competing forces also help to influence the news coverage. They tend to persuade the media to present their own interests as more general or public interests. Take for example liberals. They have been very successful in recent in persuading the media to present their environmental, consumer, and political reform proposals as matters of the public interest.
But the most important factor influencing news coverage is the audience. Since mass media depends upon advertising revenues for their profits the perspective of most advertises (especially those whose products are relatively expensive) tend to want younger, upscale consumers for their ads and commercials. Therefore it is in the upper and middle class segments of the audience whose interest and taste especially influence the media s news, public affairs, and political coverage. This is evident from the topics covered, style of coverage, and from the types of reporters and newscasters who appear on the screen. Take for example the political and social topics in news coverage. These topics mainly appeal to the interests of well-educated professionals, executives, and intellectuals. In recent years the topics have ranged from the nuclear arms race to the cost of real estate. A better example would be the New York Times. According to the article What makes Mainstream Media Mainstream by Noam Chomsky the Times are considered a corporation that sells a product. The product being the audience or rather privileged people. (The privileged people are just like people who are writing the newspapers; top-level decision-making people in society.) Therefore the product of the media, what appears, what doesn t appear, and the way it is slanted will reflect the interest of the buyers and sellers, the institutions, and the power systems that are around them.
Freedom gives the media enormous power. They can make or break reputations, help to begin or end political careers, and build support for or bring together opposition against programs and institutions. Through the freedom of reporters, the influence of groups and politicians, and the audience, it makes it impossible for the news coverage to unbiased and objective.