Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

The methods and bias of the media

By walkingshark in Media
Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 10:03:52 PM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

by Michael Leza

When most people watch a TV show, like Buffy or CSI or Survivor, they are well aware of the fact that everything they see is preplanned, scripted, and fully controlled. Days of planning, hard work, and post production have gone into that show to turn it from a jumble of video recordings into a coherent show.

What many of these same people are not aware of (and how could they be?) is that when they sit down to watch the nightly news, or their favorite artificial news-flavored product, they are in fact watching a show that has been just as managed, planned, and scripted as any episode of Seinfeld was.

So, lets pull back the curtain and take a good look.

First, a nightly news program. Any news program begins with an executive producer. This producer hands out assignments to various news teams, usually made up of a producer, a reporter or “talent,” a camera operator, and perhaps a sound technician (sometimes, depending on the funding and the prestige of the people involved, people have to double up, other times extra specialist crew like lighting and make up are involved). Some talents or producers have freedom to choose many of their own stories, or have first pick from a list of issues the executive producer wants covered.

Once assignments are handed out, sometimes with instructions like “Give me a human interest angle on that warehouse fire from this morning,” the team is dispatched to find footage and coverage for the topic. Many times this is made up of interviews, both arranged and “on the spot,” and also often includes “background” footage, things like shots of the burnt out husk of a building, or people walking in front of a courthouse, or crowds protesting. Just stuff they can put on the screen while the reporters are talking.

So the team goes out and gets their raw footage. This will also often include scripted reporting from the talent, usually written in cooperation with the producer. Once they have this, they return to headquarters (or edit in the van, if equipped to do so and needed for deadline purposes) and begin to edit.

Now, often the questions asked during an interview, or the footage shot, or the statements of a reporter, are already designed to fit in the master plan of the producer, who has been figuring out how the finished segment is going to look ever since the assignment was handed over. Editing is the chance for the producer and the talent to sit down and hash out what kind of storyline they can pull out of their raw footage.

Once the team has a story ready, they present it to the executive producer, who then decides how that segment fits in with the other pieces to be aired. Sometimes a piece is re-cut, or if it is particularly good the executive producer will ask for it to be expanded.

Once the Executive Producer has all of the pieces for an evening's broadcast ready, the broadcast itself is ready to be finalized. It is at this point that the teleprompter script for the anchors is finished and the camera cuts are prepared (some news rooms may use a more “on the fly” system of camera work, whereas others will have every cut, pan and zoom planned out before the morning coffee is cold).

And that, kids, is how your nightly newscast is made. Sounds reasonable and harmless right?

Here's the problem: humans have to eat.

An executive producer of a network nightly news cast for your local network station is chosen based on their ability to bring in ratings. Higher ratings mean a channel can charge more for the commercials sold during the newscast. This means that an executive producer has an incentive to produce programming for the lowest common denominator, while adding enough flash and production value to make people feel as if they are watching a “good, quality newscast.”

The networks are now all owned by corporations, and in this Wall-Street dominated era corporations exist for one purpose: to enhance shareholder value. The networks hire and sign the paychecks of the local executive producer, who in turn has control of the local producers, anchors, and talent. The corporation spends money on market research, all of which shows that people tend to like sensationalist stories, stories about celebrity, scandal, violence, or sex. People also do not like to have their ideas and beliefs challenged.

With this in mind, an executive producer will give the good stories to the teams with the best record of delivering the things the market research teams report people want to see. They do this to ensure ratings stay high so that they can keep their jobs and continue to eat. Producers, talent, and the rest of the crew thus have an incentive to deliver the kinds of stories that the market research says people like, told in a way that keeps people entertained and excited, so they can have more access to the good assignments, which makes it easier to produce such segments, which ensures their job security, which allows them to continue to eat.

Thus we have a system that encourages lowest common denominator stories that appeal to the Jerry Springer in all of us, stories about missing teens in Aruba that we can all get concerned about. This is also why we don't see stories about Darfur, Genocide, children being raped in Iraq, or all the other unpleasant things that are happening in your world tonight. What isn't profitable for the corporation isn't something the corporation wants to show, and those things disturb people, make them feel bad and guilty for not doing something. It makes them question their wisdom in electing their current leaders. Worst of all, in the corporate eyes, it makes them change the channel. And when that happens, people in the news room lose their jobs.

Stories of political bias in the media abound. What people need to understand is that those very stories are propagated as a form of viral advertising, devised by corporations to steal market share away from each other's network newscasts and into their cable media news-flavored television product channels. The pundits who endlessly repeat the phrase “liberal media” all draw their paychecks from major corporations, they are salespeople out to drum up business for their true masters. The people who repeat that phrase might as well also wander around saying, “Coke is it!,” or “Campbells Tomato Soup, possibilities!” They are unpaid advertisers, not for some mythical “conservative” media, but for the all pervasive Corporate Media that has ruthlessly exploited its dominant control of almost everything most Americans see or hear.

If you really want to see how far things have come, watch MSNBC for a few hours during the next run of “The Apprentice,” and watch how their reporters spend entire news segments talking about who was fired from the boardroom as if it were actually news. These newscast embedded commercials for products produced by the corporate owners have become more and more common as time has gone on, and include anything from toys to video games to movies to television shows.

What can we do about this? For one thing, stop watching corporate media. For another, push for more transparency in reporting (say, by clearly marking segments for media or products of the parent corporation or its affiliates and subsidiaries as Advertisements on the bottom of the screen). Finally, call your local news stations and ask that they make available copies of their raw footage of local events (such as local government press briefings) after 24 hours so that the public can see what really happened. The Corporate Media is going to have to work hard to rebuild our trust; and if they don't, they will see their profits continue to decay as more people get their news primarily from the Internet. Which might not be such a bad thing after all.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o Also by walkingshark

Display: Sort:
The methods and bias of the media | 78 comments (58 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
-1, too obvious (none / 1) (#5)
by bml on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 10:14:31 AM EST

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
the media is biased (2.00 / 14) (#7)
by circletimessquare on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 10:58:49 AM EST

always was, always will be

allow the shock and horror to sink into your retarded idealism and naivete about how the real world works

now move the fuck on and catch up with the rest of us who realized this when we were 10 years old

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

The people is stupid (none / 0) (#68)
by xL on Fri Jul 29, 2005 at 07:01:49 AM EST

It's not the media that is biased. It's the people that is stupid. And the politicians that thinks these things is ok. Like the decline grammar, these things happens.

[ Parent ]
Some people are stupid (none / 0) (#72)
by fairthought on Fri Jul 29, 2005 at 10:08:23 PM EST

And some people see stupidity where it doesn't exist.

Usage of media with a singular verb is correct in this context. See definition 4b and the usage note.

[ Parent ]

by CAPS LOCK on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 11:00:48 AM EST


good to see you back n/t (3.00 / 2) (#10)
by I Mod Everything Up But Kitten on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 11:10:23 AM EST

[ Parent ]
I feel like Batman in Detective Comics (2.50 / 6) (#13)
by Kasreyn on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 11:32:22 AM EST

You didn't mod him up, therefore he must be kitten. AWESOME!

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
You say (none / 0) (#9)
by 1318 on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 11:09:39 AM EST

"Stories of political bias in the media abound. What people need to understand is that those very stories are propagated as a form of viral advertising, devised by corporations to steal market share away from each other's network newscasts and into their cable media news-flavored television product channels."

And yet you don't demonstrate how your article isn't also a part of this market-share stealing tactic?

Or does mentioning political bias some how mean "guilty of stealing market share" while corporate bias means "absolutely correct"?

"So then, why don't you die?"-Antisthenes

And that, kiddos, (2.66 / 15) (#12)
by Kasreyn on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 11:30:41 AM EST

is a better indirect explanation of why public broadcasting deserves more, and not less, funding, than anything I could have said directly about it. Corporate media fails so completely to deliver objective news (not surprising since that's not its goal) that public broadcasting is a critical service, assuming it's free of governmental interference.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
I'd agree, but only partly. (2.00 / 5) (#22)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 01:50:18 PM EST

Isn't the BBC constantly being accused of being a mouthpiece for the government?

what would keep PBS from becoming the same?

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]

Hey, despite its flaws, the BBC... (1.33 / 3) (#30)
by parrillada on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 03:56:23 PM EST

...is better (IMHO) than most american news providers.

[ Parent ]
Agreed. (none / 0) (#54)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 09:30:46 AM EST

They certainly report on more news from more places.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
If anything... (2.80 / 5) (#33)
by shinshin on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 06:09:22 PM EST

the BBC has been accused of being too anti-government. They were some of the only ones to question the veracity of Blair's claims that Iraq could launch WMD within 45 minutes, while Rupert Murdoch's newspapers were spreading "Brits 45 minutes from doom!" headlines and drumming up panic.

For one example of the conflicts the BBC can have with the government, read about the Hutton Inquiry.

In the end, while government funding of media is worrisome, in the cases of the BBC and PBS (e.g., The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer), the quality and completeness of their coverage is unarguably better than anything that comes out of the corporate-run news media. Provided enough oversight and transparency mechanisms are in place, government-run media can probably be of very high quality.

We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
[ Parent ]

Agreed. (none / 0) (#55)
by porkchop_d_clown on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 09:37:49 AM EST

I agree with your last paragraph; as to the first two, I guess what I was thinking of was the back-lash from that, I got the impression that the government was attempting to rein the BBC in; but perhaps my impressions were incorrect.

How many trolls could a true troll troll if a true troll could troll trolls?
[ Parent ]
True (none / 0) (#60)
by shinshin on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 12:07:29 PM EST

<pre> I got the impression that the government was attempting to rein the BBC in; but perhaps my impressions were incorrect. </pre>

Good point. They did go after the board's throats after the inquiry. They didn't wind up doing too much long-term damage, but it was disturbing.

We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
[ Parent ]

Joking, right? (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by daani on Sat Jul 30, 2005 at 12:06:33 AM EST

Isn't the BBC constantly being accused of being a mouthpiece for the government?

I've never heard the BBC being accused of too pro-government. The opposite accusation is pretty common.

In Australia the ABC is always moderately anti-government, no matter who is governing. The exception is that the ABC is strongly pro-multicultural, which has put it at odds with the current federal government.

Here in Thailand, the government owns and openly influences four out of five free-to-air TV networks. The fifth is owned by the PM personally. Being too critical of the government in the English language media has a habit of getting you sued out of the country. <Chuckles>.

[ Parent ]
Sadly, I have to agree (2.71 / 7) (#16)
by dead_radish on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 12:18:30 PM EST

It is very well written, but yeah, it falls in to the "tell me something I don't know" category.
I knew I shoulda brought a crossbow. -- Largo. www.megatokyo.com
+1 FP: pwhysall votes -1 n/t (1.00 / 8) (#19)
by I Mod Everything Up But Kitten on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 12:29:31 PM EST

Come on. (2.22 / 9) (#20)
by fyngyrz on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 12:36:31 PM EST

What many of these same people are not aware of
(and how could they be?)

Oh, I don't know. Some of us might be able to figure it out. How about as a consequence of...

  • The incredibly biased reports themselves
  • The inane, 1st-grade level "commentary" from reporters on-scene
  • The inane, 1st-grade level rehashed "commentary" from anchor-folk
  • The "pretty face" requirement
  • The lack of coverage of real news
  • The insane level of coverage of junk like Michael Jackson's travails
  • The inability to produce even correct grammar, never mind correct data
  • The inability to separate opinion from news
  • The breathy urgency given to "news" about Hollywood
  • The absolutely undeserved credulity gifted to politicians and legislation
  • The entire FOX news organization, top to bottom
  • Behaviors like exit polling, sound bite collecting and "human interest interviews"

So how could anyone have any idea that the media exists for its own benefit and no one else's? There are no clues. None at all. Right?

Blog, Photos.

True (none / 0) (#39)
by walkingshark on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:38:12 PM EST

Your response gave me a chuckle. You bring up some good points, I was simply trying to keep my original post depoliticized as much as possible.

[ Parent ]
I can't believe I forgot... (none / 0) (#40)
by fyngyrz on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:41:33 PM EST

...to note the media's (TV and other) tendency to fake "balance" by including "alternate" viewpoints such as "colloidal silver cures cancer", "abortion causes cancer", "creationism", "Ralian clonaid", "zero point energy", and the like as if they had any legitimate credibility at all (they don't.)

Television. Sigh.

Did you know sex on television is OK?

As long as you don't fall off, of course.

Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

Did you know that (none / 1) (#48)
by RobRoy on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 01:51:21 AM EST

The entire FOX news organization, top to bottom.

is called "News Corporation". It owns the London Times, which it has been selling for half price since it was purchased, resulting it greater circulation, and large losses. It owns the biggest selling daily papers in Sydney and Melbourne, and the only daily papers in Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin. It owns the only Australian National daily paper. It sacks editors for not supporting Bush's foreign policy.

John Howard faced no problem being re-elected last year.

[ Parent ]

Reasons and Solutions (3.00 / 2) (#21)
by feline on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 12:41:46 PM EST

An executive producer of a network nightly news cast for your local network station is chosen based on their ability to bring in ratings.

While true that the network has a responsibility to increase ratings to make money, it is not their fault that the news has moved more toward fluff and bias.

This is more indicative of a shift in the attitudes and interests of the viewers of television news than some arbitrary shift in what the producers are offering.

For one thing, stop watching corporate media.

The above is not the answer. The key to getting resonsible and relevent media is to make the provder believe it's worth his while to get it.

But how can you make him believe that America wants hard news when it seems to constantly scream out for those human interest and celebrity stories? Only time will tell.

I think one solution... (none / 0) (#29)
by parrillada on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 03:53:02 PM EST

...is government-funded programs (now they hardly get any money from the government, but they used to) like the News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. Being partly government-funded and tied to non-profit orgs, they aren't tied to the corrupting influences of ratings driven entertainment. I personally, BTW, find the News Hour both entertaining, and, well, it ACTUALLY HAS NEWS, and as far as I can tell it's completely free of bias. If some rabid conservative gets on here claiming how biased PBS or NPR is, I suggest they actually watch the show, because I think they would be surprised at just how professional and unbiased it really is.

[ Parent ]
But who watches TV for the news? (3.00 / 5) (#25)
by nkyad on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 02:15:12 PM EST

Yes, I know the sad answer, more than 60% of the world population have the TV as their sole news source.

Nevertheless, I rarely watch TV news - I tend to catch my news in newspapers and some selected sites in the Internet. Only when something really big is happening (as the recent London attack and the more recent killing of a Brazilian by the London police) I will tune to a news channel, and even then what drives me is mostly curiosity for the imagery - I long ceased to expect real information from TV and settled for what it does best (or solely), deliver fast entertainment and spectacle.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run

Speaking of the murder of the Brazillian guy (none / 1) (#44)
by D Jade on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:03:24 PM EST

I can't believe no one has submitted a story yet! I was expecting all of these lefty conspiracists and right wing debunkers to be posting like mad..

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]
I quit watching TV news (2.66 / 9) (#26)
by Armada on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 02:18:42 PM EST

I know. Sounds ridiculous, right? No news? Not really, every other news story is about some blog that scooped something big. I shit you not, I watched a news anchor cover two competing blogs talking about iBook rumors the other day.

They call this shit news?

Now before you get to sympathizing with me, keep this in mind, I used to like FoxNews. Hell, I suppose you could say I still do. They brought a life into reporting the news and sensationalistic appeal that hadn't been seen since the likes of "Hemp-killer Hearst".

I suppose you may see that as a bad thing, I see it as a double-edged sword. You see, the only thing in the news that wasn't boring in the 80s and up to the mid-90s was the stuff that showed up on tabloids first, or in the case of Matt Drudge, the Internet. I hated sorting through Bat-boy and Elvis articles to find those few gems that should be in the major news. I really hate it. Fox News allowed more coverage in more time, and gave you enough details that you could look the rest up on Google if you wanted. They provided me wackos to debunk.

Sadly for them, Fox News is also the reason why I quit caring about TV news. I'd have to say it was the day around 3 years ago when Shepherd Smith (the guy that always starts his first word like it's its own exciting sentence) said, "Put! ...down that fork and pay attention to this, folks. Fox News has learned that beef from Kentucky might have made its way through Iowa and may have been contaminated by Canadian/British sheep."

Too many maybes. Plus, I was eating Chinese Sesame Chicken at the time. Plus, I lived in the town in Iowa. Plus, I was best buds with a guy who worked where they would have gotten contaminated. Plus, a quick call said there hadn't been anything through his area in weeks, and nothing from Kentucky since he started working there four years previous.

I guess maybe TV News is still cool to some people. Like my parents. But certainly not me. Knowing how to use the Internet and still using print and tv media as your primary news source is like using toliets instead of the urinals to piss in public restrooms.

You only just realised this then? (none / 0) (#43)
by D Jade on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:02:12 PM EST

Um... Sorry, but you must be stupid. We get the Fox news channel here and after watching it for five minutes I knew it was all full of shit. I don't even rate that as news. It's just a bunch of baloney... No, I call Fox news comedy because it's so funny that so many USAmericans actually watch and believe it and it's even funnier because it's an expat Australian who's giving it to you! That'll learn you for calling us convicts!

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]
Corporate media? (2.91 / 12) (#31)
by NoBeardPete on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 04:02:01 PM EST

Your conclusion that one should avoid corporate media is ridiculous. The solution is to avoid shitty media. There's plenty of good corporate media around. You talk about how nightly broadcast network news aims at the lowest common denominator. I'm not entirely convinced. But it is certainly the case that there are some news outfits aiming at a niche market of smart, discerning people who demand good news and are prepared to pay for it. Find some of these outfits, and go with them.

I find that The Economist, for example, has great coverage of world affairs. They tend to be a bit more focused on business and finance then I'm really interested in, but they have a large amount of top quality coverage of goings on in the world. They tell me about important shit that's going on, and almost never waste my time with fluffy human interest stories or the latest details on Michael Jackson's trial. I guess they're aiming largely at an audience of important businesspeople who have real decisions to make, people who want to have an accurate understanding of the world that these decisions will be made in.

Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!

Minority vs Majority (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by tolomea on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 04:19:33 PM EST

Shifting the publics main source of news and current events to the internet will only make matters worse. The simple fact of the matter is that the market research is right, the vast majority of people don't want to know about the stuff that they consider boring or that challenges thier preconceptions. Moving these people to the internet will simply allow them to get thier news tuned to fit thier personal biases rather than the most common biases, which if anything is far worse. At least with the current scheme there is a marginal chance the might see something that doesn't fit with thier personal view of the world.

-1 sounds like indymedia (2.14 / 7) (#34)
by thefirelane on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 06:24:18 PM EST

For one thing, stop watching corporate media.

Yeah, like that God damn Corporation for Public Broadcasting.... burn them, burn the witches!

Seriously though... this is a common bit of rhetoric coming from the far left. What they don't realize is that this idea of the 'corporate media' boogyman is really just their attempt to remain populist without admitting that the problems really just stem from the fact that most people are idiots who consume this tripe... remember, it isn't the dumb public being given what they want. It is the `evil corporate media' forcing people to watch crappy TV.

Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
Oh you're right. (none / 0) (#37)
by tthomas48 on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 06:39:49 PM EST

There are no government sponsored monopolies governing who can own broadcast television stations. And there are no government sponsored monopolies over who can provide cable lines in an area. So anyone can get into the television news business and provide a better product.
Listen. If you are truly conservative and believe in a market economy then start arguing for it. Don't go defending multi-billion dollar corporations that are only multi-billion dollar corporations because they legally own the market.

[ Parent ]
Did you reply to the right post? (none / 0) (#41)
by thefirelane on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 07:52:23 PM EST


I read my post, then I read yours. Did you hit reply to the right post? My post was about the fact that 'corporate media' encompasses a large amount of material, some shit, some good.... but guess what people watch... the shitty stuff, because they like it.

Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
[ Parent ]
He didn't say they were forced (none / 1) (#42)
by D Jade on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 08:50:24 PM EST

The statement he made was supportive of your's, and that is to say that the tragedy that is commercial news is what people want to watch. What he is arguing, and I tend to agree with him, is that the news should actually inform the public of what really is going on in the world.

The problem with the current situation is that marketing rules the world. Everywhere you look it is right in front of you. Now, that's all good and well for the corporations because they make more money. But the problem is you now have millions of people in this world who think that there is a world wide terrorist organisation bent on destroying "democracy". They see 50+ people dead in London and think that this is an attrocity of gigantic proportions and they draw the conclusion that this non-existant terrorist network must be stopped at all costs. However, they don't realise that the 50,000+ casualties and deaths we've caused in Iraq are a contributing factor.

Ethically, journalists should be reporting both sides of the story to ensure that they deliver a fair and balanced view of the situation. This isn't what happens though. What the average person passes off as news, you and I pass off as propoganda.

This happens on both sides of the spectrum though. The indymedia is just as biassed because they've been fucked by the corporations too many times.

I guess my point is that in a utopian world, the real news would be shown. If people want crappy television, they can choose to watch whichever sitcom/drama series they like. However, as this news is all run by the marketing department, this will not happen. It's not that people don't want to watch the real story, it's that the marketers can make any survey of people deliver exactly the results they want. If I were to change the questions around, I can guaruntee you that my results will show you that people want fair and balanced reporting and will forego sensation for the real story.

You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]

"Stop watching corporate media" .. (3.00 / 2) (#46)
by gbd on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 12:25:52 AM EST

.. might sound like Indymedia, but that doesn't mean that it's not good advice.

Seriously, putting aside (for the moment) the question about why the corporate news media is as vapid as it is, would anybody with a solid grasp on real world affairs actually defend corporate media as a good source of information and hard news?

Personally, I turned corporate media off for good over a month ago, and I'm far better informed because of it. The fact that something has a "college Democrat" ring to it doesn't make it wrong.

Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

That was my point (none / 1) (#58)
by thefirelane on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 10:34:10 AM EST

Seriously, putting aside (for the moment) the question about why the corporate news media is as vapid as it is, would anybody with a solid grasp on real world affairs actually defend corporate media as a good source of information and hard news?

But that's exactly my point. Although I understand what you mean when you say `corporate media'.. most people do not. So these people think you are an idiot. When you say `corporate media' you mean Fox news, and the latest scare story on network TV. However, you are using a term that encompasses The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The New York Times. So you can't make such a broad, incorrect, generalization and then wonder why people don't see your point.

Prube.com: Like K5, but with less point.
[ Parent ]
"Far left"? (none / 1) (#75)
by mr strange on Sun Jul 31, 2005 at 05:59:52 PM EST

Where is this "far left" that you mention? There really aren't that many communists or anarchosyndicalists in the US. Have you ever met one?

US politics gives you a choice between right wing (Democrats) and far right wing (Republicans).

Are you looking for CORBA training?

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]

Overly simplistic, lacks analysis (3.00 / 5) (#35)
by livus on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 06:27:47 PM EST

What is this "lowest common denominator"? It sounds like the level of media analysis my Great Aunt might achieve.

If you're going to talk nuts and bolts, the least you can do is pay attention to target demographics. I.e which specific "people" are networks trying to attract? "The public" is not some homogenous mass of equally desirable viewers.

You also make the weird assumption that there exists "the real news", that it is being filmed, etc.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Are you Michael Leza? (none / 0) (#36)
by gzur on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 06:34:48 PM EST

"I'm not looking for work, but I wouldn't say no to a Pacific rim job."
Indeed (none / 0) (#53)
by walkingshark on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 08:07:13 AM EST

That is me. You can see my blog here.

[ Parent ]
Thank God this was written (2.40 / 5) (#45)
by voodooeskimo on Wed Jul 27, 2005 at 09:08:21 PM EST

At first I thought you were going to start shit about the SCLM, while in fact you were going after a real problem in media today. I proudly present you with the Order of (Jon) Stewart and a +1FP. Go forth and preach to the world, brother.

Oh yuss (none / 1) (#49)
by jeremyn on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 02:02:13 AM EST

I only believe what I read on IndyMedia and DailyKos.

if all the media and corporations (1.00 / 3) (#50)
by insomnyuk on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 03:47:23 AM EST

are conspiring together to keep information out of our hands, how do we know you aren't just a plant being sent to throw us off the trail to the REAL truth?

Your suggestions are so awe-inspiring, we should mandate them and allow the enlightened FCC to enforce 'transparency' standards and require all raw footage to be archived, copied, and stored at local libraries. The cost wouldn't put anybody out of business, and it would be worth it. And while we're at it, let's ban the violent and sexual corporate entertainment that is corrupting t3h childr3n! Hillary Clinton and Rick Santorum agree on something, amazingly.


"There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness." - H.L. Mencken

Wow (3.00 / 2) (#52)
by walkingshark on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 08:04:30 AM EST

I find your comments enlightening and informative, I'm glad you posted. As you are no doubt aware, news stations already maintain archives of their footage, and having them maintain copies of their raw footage for a time after a broadcast would not be an excessive burden. I do appreciate your insightful input, I will investigate the religion you so strongly evangelize for and will also look into the Patchouli scent, something my girlfriend and I may enjoy in our next "romantic bath night." While I appreciate your concern, I have no fear of the corporate world, only a strong distaste for business strategy that sacrifices long term stability for short term profitability.

I look forward to seeing your contributions to the site, and to the world of politics once you move out of Junior High School and into the world of adults. Good luck in all your endevours, and don't be afraid to seek treatment for your rage control issues. There is a wide spectrum of drugs available these days from your Doctor that can help you with your problems, but you have to take that first step and admit you have a problem.

Take care,


[ Parent ]

maybe when i'm 12 [nt] (none / 0) (#56)
by insomnyuk on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 10:12:58 AM EST

"There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness." - H.L. Mencken
[ Parent ]
and seriously (none / 0) (#57)
by insomnyuk on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 10:19:25 AM EST

This article is a rehash of the meme that journalists are biased.

You almost got into original territory when you talk about the editing decision but in fact you could have really said something interesting and not everyone here could have claimed to know about it, but whatevs.

"There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness." - H.L. Mencken
[ Parent ]

Technology and Media (none / 0) (#59)
by mberteig on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 10:47:31 AM EST

I wrote a paper back in the early 90's on a topic that is related.  Some of it is dated, but I think it's still really interesting.  Basically, it asserts that it is important to look at technologies from the perspective of their social impact.  Let me know what you think of it (in particular the ideas, not the writing style or the dated facts).  It's a long read, but I think it's worth it.  Maybe I'll re-jig it and post it here...

Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
Do it (none / 1) (#69)
by TuringTest2002 on Fri Jul 29, 2005 at 07:41:19 AM EST

Your paper contains an interesting approach, you could certainly publish here. But please rewrite it so it's easier to grasp the main ideas - reformat "The Ideas" section to explain, point by point (and with a bulleted list), a methodology of analisys (i.e. *list the "three assumptions", *examine how a technology affects human rights, etc).

Then you could apply that methodology to each of the proposed technologies (which could be done in a separate article for each one).

And write on "inverted pyramid" style, first state the conclusions, then explain how you arrive to each one.

[ Parent ]

Thanks for the Feedback (none / 0) (#70)
by mberteig on Fri Jul 29, 2005 at 10:35:07 AM EST

You make some good points that will help readability.

Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
[ Parent ]
Absolutely correct! (1.50 / 2) (#61)
by evilmeow on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 02:43:13 PM EST

Corporations run the news. People don't want their beliefs to be challenged. This is why we don't see children in Iraq raped. Ergo, children in Iraq are raped.

Yup. That's it. American corporations rape Iraq children by proxy!

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

And this is interesting? (none / 1) (#64)
by cdguru on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 10:57:16 PM EST

OK, when television was new in 1949 the new television stations (corporate-owned, by the way) needed to put on news like radio stations did. This evolved into TV news becoming a major force in the 1960's. The CBS news organization was, at that time, probably about the best with both the stories they covered and the team they had working on news. It cost them millions of dollars to do this, but it was seen essentially as a requirement of having a broadcasting organization (radio or television).

Perhaps not so surprisingly, things have changed. Today the "news organization" is judged by the same standards as the decision to run Survivor or Big Brother in a given time slot. News shows receive ratings based on watchability and relevance. Accuracy of reporting is not a factor. Competition between news organizations doesn't exist - competition between television shows and news shows does exist. Nobody today assumes that putting out news programs is a requirement of being a legitimate broadcaster.

This trend does not seem like it is changing and nobody other than someone who's been living in a cave since 1965 should expect current "news" programs to be the way they were in 1965.

Something you missed... (3.00 / 5) (#65)
by ktakki on Thu Jul 28, 2005 at 11:02:03 PM EST

I wanted to post this as an editorial comment while this was in the queue but I didn't have the time...

You should have included the most damning facts of the current state of television news and corporate cronyism: the rise of the video press release and accompanying b-reel footage.

Over the last decade or two, corporations and their public relations firms have been providing so-called video press releases along with a b-reel of raw footage (additional shots of scenes that are germane to the content of the press release). This content has been finding its way on to the airwaves in increasing amounts.

An example: the high cost of pharmaceuticals in the US is a common theme in the mainstream media. Pharma companies often counter this with video news releases of their latest products, or of proposals to reduce costs for certain consumers. The news release is conveyed in the form of a tape, similar in content to an infomercial, along with additional footage of pharmaceutical research labs and assembly lines.

News organizations make use of the accompanying b-reel footage, especially since there's not enough staffers to go out and get shots of labs and plants for every story that's aired (something that's even more prevelant in light of reduced headcounts at network news divisions). When you see those blue or purple pills rolling down a chute into a hopper, or a room full of white-coated scientists hard at work curing cancer, you're seeing footage shot by the pharmaceutical company and its public relations firm.

Think about this the next time you see a piece on mad cow disease. That's the farm that they (the beef producers) want you to see, not the farm where the downer cow was actually found.

"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

The one bright side of Video News Releases (3.00 / 4) (#67)
by rmx on Fri Jul 29, 2005 at 01:12:05 AM EST

If you're a small business, though, these things can be amazingly efficient marketing tools. The best money my old dot-com ever spent was a video news release describing how a teacher assigned as homework the use of our website. It got picked up in over 40 mid-to-large metropolitan areas and many dozens of small local news stations. TV ads that got that much airtime as would have probably cost 100X what the video news release cost.

Once you get over the icky feeling that much of the happy-feel-good-news really isn't news but a big set of cleverly disguised ads; you may as well join in and play the game too.

Oh, and tips for those who might want to try this - it seems to help if your video news release has a feel-good side to it (like helping education) and videos of school kids being interviewed. We tried a couple others but none got nearly the pick-up as the one with lots of cute kids talking about how much they learned using our web site.

[ Parent ]

Never attribute to malice what can be explained by (none / 1) (#71)
by MoebiusStreet on Fri Jul 29, 2005 at 02:51:04 PM EST

I think it's a mistake to attribute this to either naked political soapboxing or sex-sells corporate greed.

I've read a distillation of political thinking into two basic approaches. Consider that you see an emaciated homeless man on the side of the road. The person who approaches problems in a more emotional vein will propose that we give the poor soul some food and money. The observer who's more driven by logic, on the other hand, will begin to wonder how we can prevent people from winding up in those straits in the first place. If we stipulate that helping such people is "the right thing" to do, neither person is completely right. The emotional thinker's approach will never prevent the problem, and so we'd always be reacting to the problem, trying to help people who had already suffered. The logical thinker may help people down the road, but passes by those that have the immediate need.

Those believe that the media has a liberal bias seem to be in the camp of the logical (full disclosure -- along with me).

At the risk of offending, I think that the "liberal bias in media" is revealed in their nearly-universal emotional approach. In any tragedy, I brace myself to hear the inane phrases like "struggle to make sense of this senseless tragedy" and "begin the healing process". I hate this because
- it doesn't help us actually understand what happened
- it's impossible for them to really know what people are thinking, and I think rather presumptuous to assume
- it's just a cliche, revealing to me that they're not even trying to think

I think we can take it as given that even conservatives generally feel for the victims and their families, but want to get past that to understand what happened, so that we can try preventing it. When confronted with a tragedy it's quite natural, productive, and indeed necessary to look for its cause, so we can prevent recurrence.

The bias that I noted (the tendency to follow mainly the emotional aspects of a tragedy) is inherent in the structure of media, rather than an error on the part of the journalist (whether intentional or not).

The emotional story can be investigated and presented very quickly -- it fits into the attention span of a viewer/listener/reader -- and is rarely falsifiable. The "logical" story (for want of a better term) takes a lot of work to uncover, unfolds over an extended period of time (beyond the sustained interest of most people), and is subject to objective criticism.

So it's only natural for the media to lean more toward the emotional. But that doesn't mean I have to like it :)

Blogs offer a great solution to this. When we find a topic that interests us, we can write about it ourselves, or find someone else who is already doing so.

Disclaimer - emotional camp. (none / 0) (#73)
by daani on Fri Jul 29, 2005 at 11:53:46 PM EST

even conservatives generally feel for the victims and their families ... understand what happened ... we can try preventing it

What you're saying is fair enough, there is probably some such sentiment around. But I think it's a long way from the whole story.

Another way to frame this is to cast conservatives as idealists who don't want any solution but some kind of automatic, self-correcting system that prevents the kind of poverty you mention from ever happening. Solve the problem and be done with it. Looking at it this way the foolish emotional people are the practical ones - recognizing that there is no solution, only harm minimization.

There is a role for such idealism. The big problem with it is that when a perfect solution doesn't present itself it makes the idealists uncomfortable. At this point conservatism drifts into "blame the victim" mode. Or my own favourite - "Our idealogically driven strategy appears to be making things worse, but it will work if we commit more fully, pour in more resources etc.". i.e. - Fight the war on drugs *more* ruthlessly, or we just need *more* stimulus and bailout packages.

Yada, yada yada. A couple of years back I would of agreed with you completely. A couple more and my point of view probably will have swung back to agreement too.

[ Parent ]

Ersatz rationality is really emotionality (none / 0) (#76)
by MoebiusStreet on Sun Jul 31, 2005 at 08:18:38 PM EST

> ... drifts into "blame the victim" mode
> ... it will work if we commit more fully

Sure, this happens all the time. My favorite example is The War On Self Defense's continuous commitment to disarming more victims.

But as I'm trying to frame the question, this isn't a Conservative vs Liberal thing, it's an emotional vs. rational thing. What you're describing is someone pretending to be rational, but really having an emotional investment in some approach (as opposed to being committed to some outcome).

[ Parent ]

Blah blah blah noone cares (none / 0) (#77)
by LocalH on Mon Aug 01, 2005 at 06:24:04 PM EST

If you're going to try to get a smaller station's raws, you better call them the day the story originally airs, because most non-top-market stations don't have the cash to archive all their raw material. The chronological file tapes that a station keeps are usually from the edited material (sometimes, parts of the raw footage will be kept in a topical file, but still the vast majority of the unused raw is erased when the raw tapes are blacked the next morning).

Whoopdeedo, so newscasts are scripted. What else is new? Would you rather see a newscast where it's all adlibbed and thrown together on the spot? You have to produce a newscast so that the technical crew can do their job without flailing around not knowing what comes next. Obviously, if someone turns the fact that newscasts are scripted and produced into a negative, they've never worked in news (my experience, however, is limited to the technical aspect).

Also, news flash for you - to the 'masses', the explanation of what happened on, say Survivor or Big Brother last night, is news. If you're interested in it, then new information about it is news, simple as that. Of course stations are going to do what they can to get the most viewers, what else would you have? This is capitalist America, and whether you like it or not, it would take more than just overhauling a few news departments to make such a drastic change in the worldview of the news directors who make these decisions that you're so unhappy about. If you don't like news, don't friggin' watch it, that's the greatness of the Internet - you can get news from a far greater number of sources than televised or printed news media, and you can get it faster in many cases as well.

so what? (none / 0) (#78)
by justdev on Mon Aug 01, 2005 at 09:26:26 PM EST

i used to have the same idea that if it is manufactured, it is probably bad.. but then what do we like so raw? what if news is planned and directed? we like well directed movies, well produced music and basically good products. i think i get it now. news producers may have started structuring (or is it is streamlining) their work and got so caught up that now they are very good at it. but what the heck, if it is good, i will watch it..

The methods and bias of the media | 78 comments (58 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!