Friday, September 7, 2007

Some thoughts on objectivity and journalism

I skimmed an article describing Bush's recent report of our "progress" in Iraq. The article mentioned casually how this was Bush's 3rd time to Iraq since the war started. Now, I could be interpreting this incorrectly, but I'm pretty sure the journalist included this fact to emphasize the relative smallness of this number.

The reason I mention this is that it made me think about how even the act of including this fact imparts a political bias. Thus, even a seemingly basic task as fact selection is not objective. I'm sure this was obvious to many, but I hadn't thought about it before. I brought this up with my roommate, Allison, and we talked about how given space/time constraints, fact selection must take place. However, as more facts are included, the bias should be reduced. She made the point that 24-hour cable news channels have more time to fully investigate stories and include facts, making it all the much more sad when they don't.

For further information: The Daily Show rails on cable news at least weekly and Fox News has their own documentary, Outfoxed. The latter is interesting in that while it uses many of the techniques designed to influence the viewer (music and graphics to affect viewer's emotional state) and the documentary makers are obviously biased, they make a strong point by simply showing that Fox News is not "Fair and Balanced" as it claims to be.

1 comment:

Will said...

In terms of presidential visits, 3 is about what Bush has devoted to visiting important places himself.
The State department has a list of Bush's visits here.
The places he has visited 3 or more times are:
Canada (3)
China (3)
France (3)
Germany (3)
Italy (4)
Japan (3)
Mexico (5)
Russia (6)
UK (4)
Vatican (3) presumably while already in Rome.

And in contrast, Bush has only visited Afganistan once.

-Will