A new form of bias

Slate’s Jack Shafer offers valuable insight to a new study about a “new” form of media bias — tilting the news to protect one’s reputation. I’d like to add a comment about the report’s key finding.

If a media outlet cares about its reputation for accuracy, it will be reluctant to report anything that counters the audiences’ existing beliefs because such stories will tend to erode the company’s standing.
In the words of the immortal Head Lemur, “Gee, ya think?”
Newspapers and news programs have a visible incentive to “distort information to make it conform with consumers’ prior beliefs.”
Regular readers here will recognize two themes in this no-brainer “finding.” One, the first duty of any institutionalized entity is self-preservation. This is why there is no “public trust” of the media anymore. Two, the press is morally bankrupt anyway, because the notion of “objectivity” is an illusion perpetrated on the masses by its creator, Walter Lippmann.

This is why transparency is fast becoming the new foundation for journalism in the U.S. We don’t care if you have a bias of any sort — just be honest about it and how it impacts your reporting. And begin with yourselves.

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