“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
In this case, Malcolm X was of course speaking in the context of the civil rights movement and the media biases that were present in the media at the time. What of todays media? What sort of representational biases are present in contemporary news stories today?
Lets take a quick look at a recent news story:
The above is a recent headline (i have also provided the link which i strongly recommend you follow to get the full written brief which provides some valuable context in understanding the way the issue has been framed).
The wording of the headline as well as the actual news content point the finger accusingly at video games as the root cause of the incident. However, read the news story further and other questions arise:
Why was an 8 year old allowed to play Grand Theft Auto unsupervised?
How and why was the 8 year old able to access a firearm so easily?
The caregiver in question was the childs 87 year old grandmother. Would she have been able to competently keep an eye on the child?
Where are the 8 year old parents?
Most certainly video games were a factor, but the manner in which the news story has been framed and written seems to pin video game violence as the sole culprit. Reading through the news story, isnt bad parenting the bigger issue here?
More importantly, this raises interesting issues about media and media news reporting, particularly with such a large and influential body as CNN. Are contemporary news media outlets such as CNN presenting news stories in fair and objective manner?
The article goes on to draw parallels between this story and the Deadly Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in which the shooter was also said to be influenced by violent video games. It seems apparent that what is happening here is what Bill Kovach and Tim Rosenstiel have called a “journalism of assertion”, which de-emphasizes the validity of a claim and instead encourages putting a claim into the arena of public discussion as quickly as possible.
This sensationalism and selective framing of a news story is clearly in contradiction to basic journalistic standards. In this case, it is easy to read between the lines and discover the “real” issue. However, what of news stories with which we have no point of reference, where we are reliant solely on the journalist and news media outlets to provide us with accurate, reliable and objective information such as the ongoing conflicts in Syria or the drone strikes in the Middle East? In other words, can we really trust our news sources?
Your thoughts below… and in the meantime, you stay classy Rethinking Media class of 2013