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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Thoroughly, Completely Objective Defense of Media Bias

A Thoroughly, Completely Objective Defense of Media Bias

Opinionated pieces are what people are best at writing. We are egotists who like to see our name in print, alongside our views and ideas. While journalists are traditionally supposed to be those who report on the news and not criticize it, or so someone said, the truth remains that journalists have at least some remnants of human left within them, more than lawyers anyway, and will continue to consciously or unconsciously slip bits of their own opinions into their writing.

“Just reporting the facts,” as one editor once told me, can be much more difficult, and mundane, than one might think. Collecting information, verifying details, interviewing sources, and wrapping it all neatly into one long stream of breaking news may appear easy in theory, but to make the story appealing to readers without the inclusion of opinions and bias often creates time consuming roadblocks for reporters.

There are a number of reasons a reporter may intentionally, or otherwise, integrate their own view into the piece of writing. Depending on the story, a journalist may feel that his or her opinion is called for in the article. A writer could also have strong personal feelings about the story, and feel compelled to include an opinion. There are also cases where a reporter may inadvertently incorporate a bias into their work.

But I ask you, what is so wrong with a bit of opinion in a news piece? Surely there will always be the traditionalists who stand firm in their beliefs that everything ought to go where it was intended, but they are just lacking imagination. Perhaps the unconventional combination may go against newspaper law or ethics, but were rules not made for breaking?

A continuous criticism of opinion appearing in the news section is that the reader does not have the opportunity to get the whole story. Well, I hate to break it to you, but the reader is never going to get the complete story from one article. Regardless if the reporter excludes their opinion from their work, a tactic used by journalists called framing will always hinder readers from receiving the story in its entirety.

A reporter has the capability to only report on so much for one story. Whatever they choose to include remains inside the frame, while the rest gets pushed aside for some other correspondent to cover. If the public wishes to get the full story, they must always search for alternative sources to hear what different reports have to say.

However, other than small tid-bits of information, and possible different witnesses, the only way to offer something truly different to readers is to slide in an opinion. Ratings and readers are what matter most to many, and aside from individual writers, various newspapers, magazines and entire television stations are known for their obvious slant in reporting.

If integrated correctly, an opinion can make a piece of writing stronger and more memorable. The news journalist must be careful not to over saturate their article with their own judgments, but it can often be helpful for the reader to gain a little insight on what the one informing them thinks about the issue.

Self-absorbed humans will continue to slip their thoughts into print for as long as they can get away with it. Until we hire gorillas to write our articles, oh wait; Koko has an opinion as well. Until we employ carbon-cut copies of robots to write for us, opinion and bias is something that we must become accustomed to in our newspapers.