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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Let's Play "Spot the Media Bias"

Steve Gigl at Helloooo Chapter Two! alerts his readers to the following story from the AP, reprinted in the Star Tribune with the following headline:

Driver hit while talking on radio call-in show in SUV

Steve Gigl adds:

Does "in SUV" tacked on the end there supply any useful information? To say it differently: do you lose anything by just reporting "Driver hit while talking on radio call-in show?"

No, it doesn't, but note that it does associate four "evils" of the Left in one story:

* driving, instead of using public transportation
* SUVs, the new epitome of conspicuous consumption
* using cell phones while driving
* talk radio

When this came across the wire, the news desk at the Strib must have tripped over themselves rushing this to print with the superfluous mention of the SUV. Only when you read the article do you read that she had pulled over to the side of the road to make her call, and was in fact struck from behind. What you won't read is that being in the SUV probably saved her life or kept her from more serious injury (she was hospitalized in stable condition, which indicates that the accident was more than a fender-bender).

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07:50 AM in Media Watch | Permalink


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You know, on a perfunctory reading, that headline seems to indicate the radio show was in an SUV.

Some radio show.

"Sorry folks, my producer is telling me it's time to take a break...what? Oh, sorry, we just have to stop for gas. Back right after this."

Posted by: Jon Henke at Dec 11, 2003 9:29:49 AM

Yeah, I realized that too, when I was re-re-re-reading the sentence with and without the "in SUV" to make sure I wasn't imagining that it didn't belowng.

A few of the other papers that put "SUV" in the headline (and there were quite a few) had a more realistic sentence structure.

Oh, and I wouldn't tempt some "wacky" radio show hosts; they have to report on traffic, so why not broadcast from it?

Posted by: Steve Gigl at Dec 11, 2003 9:53:05 AM

What amazes me is that most people wouldn't catch the subtle change of meaning or bias just by reading the sentence in the paper or online. That is how a lot of reporters get away with it. I think we especially don't notice it if the report echoes our own beliefs. It is more obvious to us when there is a mis-match between our paradigm and what is reported.

Posted by: Alicia at Dec 11, 2003 5:05:07 PM

How would you have stated it without including at least three of the 'evils of the left'?

Posted by: Don Guisinger at Dec 28, 2003 4:08:12 AM