On “THE MEDIA” and bias

On the attacks on “the media.” 1. First, “the media” is no monolith. It’s not one thing. There are many conservative media outlets, like Fox and talk radio. There are …

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On “THE MEDIA” and bias

On the attacks on “the media.”
1. First, “the media” is no monolith. It’s not one thing. There are many conservative media outlets, like Fox and talk radio. There are no lefty socialist atheist bogeymen and women who meet in a room to determine and promote a unified “media” agenda.
2. Media outlets (individual organizations, channels etc.) are businesses. They respond to supply and demand, and the more sensational the story, the higher the ratings and the higher they can charge for advertising. So we audience members have a lot of control, and blame, for what we see and read.
3. Media outlets are very diverse. They cover a lot of ground and take many different forms, so attacking “the media” is like attacking “retail sales,” “non-profits,” “power utilities,” or other broad and diverse business enterprises.
4. As businesses, media outlets depend on various suppliers of information and programming. The supply chain for content is unreliable and irregular. Media professionals have air time to fill and space on web sites and print pages. The more available the content, the more likely it is to be put on the air. Media outlets are very dependent on their sources, good and bad.
5. Smart sources can influence media content. They can wait to release informaiton and stories for maximum impact. It’s good business practice to supply seasonal products during the right season. I suspect some smart Democratic operatives worked to supply information onTrump, timed for maximum impact.
6. Media content depends on production schedules. If the Republican return the phone call and the Democrat doesn’t, the Republican side of the story gets published. That’s the source of many bias claims. I have been there.
7. Of course media people and outlets are biased. Get over it. Every word, every decision to start with one guy’s quote over another’s, is a subjective choice. It’s highly subjective. Professionalism seeks to provide some balance, but of course it’s subjective. Objectivity is an impossible standard, and a moving target. Everyone sees it differently . One can say the same thing for truth, justice and fairness.
8. Bottom line: media outlets are complicated what we see and read is the result of a complex ecology of people, technology and judgment. BUT SAYING ‘THE MEDIA” ANYTHING IS SIMPLISTIC TO THE POINT OF JUST BEING WRONG.

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Professor of journalism, Southeast Missouri State University

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