Internet Activity 4: Media Bias
There is no question that the media plays an important role in our political system. For most Americans, the mass media, particularly television, is the most important source of political information. Because of this, the news media has attracted significant attention from scholars of politics and communications, politicians and journalists themselves. Frequently, this attention has come in the form of criticisms of how the media presents the news. The media has been criticized for bias in terms of ideological or partisan bias, as well as bias towards coverage that is overly negative, lacking in substance, and driven by crisis. Ideologically speaking, charges of liberal bias are probably the most frequently heard, but many liberals believe that news coverage contains a lot of conservative bias as well. Submit your activity to the dropbox by 11:59PM on Sunday.
Begin by reading this article from John McManus on how to be a critical consumer of media. Then read the assigned CQ Researcher article on Media Bias for this week found in the Readings & Assignments page.
After completing these readings visit the next two sites:
- The Media Research Center is a conservative organization that maintains that media coverage is biased toward the left.
- The group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, is a liberal watchdog group that holds the opposite opinion. Read what these sites have to offer (briefings, reports, etc.)
Answer the following questions about what you have read:
- Summarize two briefings or reports from the Media Research Center related to media bias. Explain how the MRC finds the coverage discussed to be biased.
- Summarize two briefings or reports from FAIR related to media bias. How does FAIR find the coverage discussed to be biased.
- Do you find that one side (Media Research or FAIR) had a more convincing argument that the media is strongly biased toward one side or the other? Explain.
Now that you’re read about how to be a critical consumer of media and about media bias, do some reading of the mainstream media. Examine at least four articles on American politics in recent issues of at least two of major U.S. newspapers (2 articles from each paper): The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal or the Washington Times. They all have websites that post articles if you don’t have access to print editions. Provide a citation for the articles you read in APA format. For examples of how to cite works for your bibliography check out the APA website.
- Cite and briefly summarize the articles that you chose. How well did they pass the SMELL test described by James McManus? Give specific examples.
- Did any of the articles that you read seem to favor one viewpoint or political party over another? Why or why not? Illustrate with specific examples of bias or lack of it.
Focus on the extent that an officer should use force against traffic violators who are just being “uncooperative” opposed to a suspect who is posing a “threat.” Include in your discussion the standard of care for police use of force as well as what actions on the part of a suspect justify an increased or decreased force response by a police officer.
Support your answer with direct evidence from the textbook and other sources.