Media Evaluation - Blocks 1, 2 & 5

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Blocks 1, 2 & 5


BLIZZARD BAG for 3/13/17 Tuesday - Read Chapter 8 of The Information Diet. Be prepared to write about it in class.

BLIZZARD BAG for 2/16/17 Thursday

NY Times acknowledges the obvious
From a post by OpinionJournal.com’s editor James Taranto (original post date 6/17/13):
The New York Times reports on a new study with a blindingly obvious conclusion:
“News organizations are far more likely to present a supportive view of same-sex marriage than an antagonistic view, according to a content study by the Pew Research Center to be released on Monday [June 17].”
…No way! But actually there is news here, in that the leading [mouthpiece] of America’s left-liberal media has published an acknowledgment – if only a second-order one – of its own bias. Pew also looked at Twitter posts and found them “almost evenly divided between support and opposition for the measure – closely reflecting public opinion.”
“The study lends credence to conservative charges that the nation’s news media have championed the issue of same-sex marriage at the expense of objectivity,” writes the Times’s Brian Stelter. “Others have argued that news organizations are right not to overly emphasize opposition to what many see as a core civil rights issue.”
To sum up: The so-called mainstream media are overwhelmingly biased in favor of a position on which the public is evenly split. Within the media, there are two prevailing attitudes toward this bias: denial and defiance. Even opponents of same-sex marriage, by and large, don’t argue the media should be biased against it, but it would be nice if someone somewhere in the MSM would acknowledge both that the bias exists and that it is problematic.
Questions
1.  What type of bias does the media display in their reporting on same-sex marriage?








2.  In response to the NY Times' admission that the media is biased against traditional marriage, Mr. Taranto asserts:
“The mainstream media [MSM] are overwhelmingly biased in favor of a position on which the public is evenly split. Within the media, there are two prevailing attitudes toward this bias: denial and defiance. Even opponents of same-sex marriage, by and large, don't argue the media should be biased against it, but it would be nice if someone somewhere in the MSM would acknowledge both that the bias exists and that it is problematic.”
Do you agree with this assertion?  Explain your answer.


 Types of Media Bias
Bias by omission – leaving one side out of an article, or a series of articles over a period of time; ignoring facts that tend to disprove liberal or conservative claims, or that support liberal or conservative beliefs; bias by omission can occur either within a story, or over the long term as a particular news outlet reports one set of events, but not another.  To find instances of bias by omission, be aware of the conservative and liberal perspectives on current issues.  See if both the conservative and liberal perspectives are included in stories on a particular event or policy.

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”.  Experts in news stories are like expert witnesses in trials.  If you know whether the defense or the prosecution called a particular expert witness to the stand, you know which way the witness will testify.  And when a news story only presents one side, it is obviously the side the reporter supports.  (Journalists often go looking for quotes to fit their favorite argument into a news story.)  To find bias by use of experts or sources, stay alert to the affiliations and political perspective of those quoted as experts or authorities in news stories.  Not all stories will include experts, but in those that do, make sure about an equal number of conservatives and liberals are quoted.  If a story quotes non-experts, such as those portrayed as average citizens, check to be sure that about an equal number come from both sides of the issue in question.

Bias by story selection – a pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with the agenda of either the Left or the Right, while ignoring stories that coincide with the opposing view; printing a story or study released by a liberal or conservative group but ignoring studies on the same or similar topics released by the opposing group.  To identify bias by story selection you’ll need to know the conservative and liberal sides of the issue.  See how much coverage conservative issues get compared to issues on the liberal agenda, or liberals compared to conservatives.  For example, if a liberal group puts out a study proving a liberal point, look at how much coverage it got compared to a conservative study issued a few days or weeks earlier, or vice versa.  If charges of impropriety are leveled at two politicians of approximately equal power, one liberal and one conservative, compare the amount of coverage given to each.

Bias by placement – Story placement is a measure of how important the editor considers the story.  Studies have shown that, in the case of the average newspaper reader and the average news story, most people read only the headline.  Bias by placement is where in the paper or in an article a story or event is printed; a pattern of placing news stories so as to downplay information supportive of either conservative views or liberal views.  To locate examples of bias by placement, observe where a newspaper places political stories.  Or whenever you read a story, see how far into the story each viewpoint first appears.  In a fair and balanced story, the reporter would quote or summarize the liberal and conservative view at about the same place in the story.  If not, you’ve found bias by placement.

Bias by labeling – Bias by labeling comes in two forms.  The first is the tagging of conservative politicians and groups with extreme labels while leaving liberal politicians and groups unlabeled or with more mild labels, or vice versa.  The second kind of bias by labeling occurs when a reporter not only fails to identify a liberal as a liberal or a conservative as a conservative, but describes the person or group with positive labels, such as “an expert” or “independent consumer group”.  In so doing, the reporter imparts an air of authority that the source does not deserve.  If the “expert” is properly called a “conservative” or a “liberal” the news consumer can take that ideological slant into account when evaluating the accuracy of an assertion.  When looking for bias by labeling, remember that not all labeling is biased or wrong.  Bias by labeling is present when the story labels the conservative but not the liberal, or the liberal but not the conservative; when the story uses more extreme sounding labels for the conservative than the liberal (“ultra-conservative”, “far right”, but just “liberal” instead of “far left” and “ultra-liberal”) or for the liberal than the conservative (“ultra-liberal”, “far left”, but just “conservative” instead of “far right” and ”ultra-conservative; and when the story misleadingly identifies a liberal or conservative official or group as an expert or independent watchdog organization.

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 another.  To check if it’s spin, observe which interpretation of an event or policy a news story matches – the liberal or conservative.  Many news stories do not reflect a particular spin.  Others summarize the spin put on an event by both sides.  But if a story reflects one to the exclusion of the other, then you’ve found bias by spin.

The above information is excerpted and adapted from How to Identify Liberal Media Bias by Brent H. Baker, Vice President for Research and Publications at MediaResearchCenter.org.

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2/9/17 - BLIZZARD BAG for Thursday - - - -

Read the following article on Miley Cyrus and respond in writing. 

Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning


COMMENTARY • Our Annual Year 2013 • Opinion • News Media • ISSUE 49•35 • Aug 26, 2013      By Meredith Artley, Managing Editor Of CNN.Com

Over the years, CNN.com has become a news website that many people turn to for top-notch reporting. Every day it is visited by millions of people, all of whom rely on “The Worldwide Leader in News”—that’s our slogan—for the most crucial, up-to-date information on current events. So, you may ask, why was this morning’s top story, a spot usually given to the most important foreign or domestic news of the day, headlined “Miley Cyrus Did What???” and accompanied by the subhead “Twerks, stuns at VMAs”?

It’s a good question. And the answer is pretty simple. It was an attempt to get you to click on CNN.com so that we could drive up our web traffic, which in turn would allow us to increase our advertising revenue.
There was nothing, and I mean nothing, about that story that related to the important news of the day, the chronicling of significant human events, or the idea that journalism itself can be a force for positive change in the world. For Christ’s sake, there was an accompanying story with the headline “Miley’s Shocking Moves.” In fact, putting that story front and center was actually doing, if anything, a disservice to the public. And come to think of it, probably a disservice to the hundreds of thousands of people dying in Syria, those suffering from the current unrest in Egypt, or, hell, even people who just wanted to read about the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
But boy oh boy did it get us some web traffic. Which is why I, Meredith Artley, managing editor of CNN.com, put the story in our top spot. Those of us watching on Google Analytics saw the number of homepage visits skyrocket the second we put up that salacious image of Miley Cyrus dancing half nude on the VMA stage. But here’s where it gets great: We don’t just do a top story on the VMA performance and call it a day. No, no. We also throw in a slideshow called “Evolution of Miley,” which, for those of you who don’t know, is just a way for you to mindlessly click through 13 more photos of Miley Cyrus. And if we get 500,000 of you to do that, well, 500,000 multiplied by 13 means we can get 6.5 million page views on that slideshow alone. Throw in another slideshow titled “6 ‘don’t miss’ VMA moments,” and it’s starting to look like a pretty goddamned good Monday, numbers-wise. Also, there are two videos—one of the event and then some bullshit two-minute clip featuring our “entertainment experts” talking about the performance.
Side note: Advertisers, along with you idiots, love videos. Another side note: The Miley Cyrus story was in the same top spot we used for our 9/11 coverage.
Now, let's get back to why we put the story in the most coveted spot on our website, thereby saying, essentially, that Miley Cyrus’ suggestive dancing is the most important thing going on in the world right now. If you clicked on the story, and all the slideshows, and all the other VMA coverage, that means you’ve probably been on CNN.com for more than seven minutes, which lowers our overall bounce rate. Do you know what that is? Sorry for getting a little technical here. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. If we can keep that bounce rate low, and show companies that people don’t just go to CNN.com but stay there, then we can go to Ford or McDonald’s or Samsonite or whatever big company you can think of and ask for the big bucks.
So, as managing editor of CNN.com, I want our readers to know this: All you are to us, and all you will ever be to us, are eyeballs. The more eyeballs on our content, the more cash we can ask for. Period. And if we’re able to get more eyeballs, that means I’ve done my job, which gets me congratulations from my bosses, which encourages me to put up even more stupid bullshit on the homepage.
I don’t hesitate to call it stupid bullshit because we all know it’s stupid bullshit. We know it and you know it. We also know that you are probably dumb enough, or bored enough, or both, to click on the stupid bullshit anyway, and that you will continue to do so as long as we keep putting it in front of your big, idiot faces. You want to know how many more page views the Miley Cyrus thing got than our article on the wildfires ravaging Yosemite? Like 6 gazillion more.
That’s on you, not us.
To be sure, I could have argued that Miley Cyrus’ performance merited the top spot on our website because it was significant in terms of what’s happening in the world of pop culture, or that her over-the-top theatrics are worth covering because they are somehow representative of the lengths to which performers must go to stand out in the current entertainment landscape. But who the fuck are we kidding? Truth be told, anything at last night’s VMAs short of Lady Gaga beheading Will Smith with a broadsword belongs tucked away in our entertainment section, far from the homepage, far from the top spot, and far from the eyes of anyone who logged on to our site this morning to see what was happening in the world.
But then not nearly as many people would have seen it, which wouldn’t get us the page views we want, which wouldn’t get us the money we want, which wouldn’t get me the congratulations I want. So you see, there’s no stopping this. And what is this, you ask? Modern-day journalism. And what is modern-day journalism? Getting you to click on this link.

The Onion - “Let me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning” by Meredith Artley

Read the blunt article by Meredith Artley and editor at CNN.com written after the Miley Cyrus VMA “twerking” performance. Tie in this article with any aspect of what we are reading in The Information Diet by Clay Johnson. As a consumer of media, what does her honesty mean to you?
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2/3/17 - Homework - Super Bowl advertisements!  Pick your 3 favorite Super Bowl advertisements during Sunday's game. Write down each one, use the product and some way of identifying ie. Doritos Old Lady Ad. For each one write down the advertising technique that the company chose to use. 



How Should I Live My Life first drafts are due today 2/3/17.

Critiques on Vantage Point are overdue.