Monday, July 17, 2017

ONE WORD IS ALL IT TAKES TO REVEAL YOUR BIAS

Most examples of media bias today are pretty obvious. You can pick out slanted questions or opinionated soundbites which leave no doubt as to how a reporter feels about a person or an issue.

But very often the script can be just as telling. And in some cases, you may not even be aware that you're slanting a story. Sometimes, one word can change a viewer's opinion about the subject... and about you.

Let's say you're doing a story about a Governor who might be having some problems getting legislation passed. Perhaps this politician has had a tough time... and there are rumors that he's not well liked. But the rumors are just that... rumors. You have nothing on the record. Now throw in the fact that he's being criticized by people who are protesting against the legislation.

So let's look at two ways to write this story:

"Governor Jones is working hard to get his proposed legislation passed, and faces tough opposition."

"Embattled Governor Jones is working hard to get his proposed legislation passed, and faces tough opposition."

See how one added word can change the tone of the story? How it creates an impression with the viewer? And more important, how it can tag you as biased.

Who's to say the guy is "embattled?" And by what criteria do we make that determination? Just because any politician faces opposition (and they all do) does not make that person "embattled." But simply using that word gives the viewer the impression that the guy is barricaded in his office and everyone hates him.

So be careful with the words you choose. You may be as objective as they come, but the way you write your story can leave some doubt with the viewers.
 

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