Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fairness Bias

Journalistic ethics demands that reporters and editors be fair. This involves a balance in reporting. When it comes to politcal coverage, journalists are required to present each candidate's side so that there is no question of bias or emotional allegiance. In other words, journalists strive not to become a partisan press. Consequently, according to Rhetorica.net, whenever one faction or politician does something or says something newsworthy, the press is compelled to get a reaction from an opposing camp. This creates a "ping-pong-like" package where one side is refuted by the other. For example, if politician A mentions his community involvement, then the press is encouraged to seek a comment stating that Politician A is not visible in the community. The press then has to get a statement from Politician B. Does this echoe TV drama?

When it comes to political coverage, is the media trying too hard to be objective and unbiased in its coverage that it sacrifices reality? If investigative journalism allows reporters to seriously probe a topic of interest, often involving crime, political corruption, or some other scandal, then doesn't it seem fair to say that reporters could focus on one side of the political campaign rather than both? Could it be for the greater good? Is the push to portray two side as if they have equal standing hurting journalism and the quality of news coverage?

I recently confronted this particular issue in political reporting. While trying to cover an aldermanic race, I had one candidate willing to be interviewed and his opponent not so willing. But when it came down to showtime, I could not air my package without a soundbit from the opponent. On top of that, I was told that both candidates needed equal air time, in part, to be fair to the campaign process.

My role as a journalist was not intended to include campaign advertising.

While it is good to have a huge variety of viewpoints, in a 1:30 package, I don't always think it's fair to sacrifice in-depth reporting of one candidate for superficial reporting of two candidates. It seem as though media only sees in red and blue and reports in figures of two.

To visit Rhetorica.net, click here.

To learn about media bias basics, click here.



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