Bias, It’s Not Political.

22 03 2008

Many people believe that the only kind of bias in the news is that of conservative verse liberal media. I disagree. All newscasters of political ideas and it is hard for them to be completely neutral, but that isn’t a problem in my mind, it is human nature to have opinions. My problem is in how and what the news covers that provides information bias.

There are four different kinds of information bias: personalization, dramatization, fragmentation, and authority-disorder bias. Each is its own specific bias, but all are interconnected with the others making the news a faulty system, and disconnecting their audience from the larger picture of our complex world.

Personalization is the most harmful of the biases. A news organization will make a decision to cover the person rather than the real story that they are a part of. This coverage eclipses the context of a multifaceted issue in favor of “human interest stories.” These stories tug on a person’s pathos rather than giving them a chance to think logically about issues.

Personalization can make politics something that used to be about issue–broad social and economic issue–an image game. Instead of examining a political players stance or voting record, reporters will look at if they seemed angry, bypassing why they could have been angry. Personalization helps fuel the other information biases by bringing them down on an emotional level, leaving intellectual facilities dormant when the news comes on.

This is not saying that an emotional plea would be a bad thing every so often, but because of the format and news story selection, emotions are all that dictate the news. This is very true with our second information bias, dramatization. Dramatization is the soap opera view of the news, believing that crisis over continuity is better than issues-driven reporting. Dramatization of the news also goes hand in hand with personalization in the fact that is a cheap emotional device.

This is where the crisis cycle comes in. The crisis cycle is the way in which reporters cover a story that happens over a certain period of time. This cycle has a literary drive of plot, characters, climax and resolution. Yet it is the resolution that they tend to gloss over, with the story never really resolved, but enough to move on to the next story. Dramatization makes the news into short movie scenes, trivialize sense to the issues. They also make each following story more dramatic and more attention grabbing. If there isn’t enough drama, it seems that there isn’t worthy news. The reality of dramatized news is that it focuses heavily on visuals, personal narrative and crisis diminishing the real story, making issues less abstract and viewers more entertained.

Fragmentation is defined as a story completely isolated from any other story. A specific story may have a larger context, but they frame only the characters or actors within a situation, taking a piece of the puzzle, highlighting it and then leaving the audience without understanding of the full and complete picture. Whether it is a welfare story or issues with foreign policy, only a personalized or dramatized character piece will be brought up, excluding hard analysis of the circumstances leading to the story. One can look at a newscast as a fragmented piece: one story after another, unconnected with only drama and personal narratives driving each story, the audience forgetting each story after commercial breaks and abrupt segways from one story to another.

Fragmentation will take a story, cover a piece of it, and may not get the story through the entire cycle making the impression that the outcome is unimportant. This information bias makes the news sketchy and inconsistent. If a journalist only focuses on a snippet of daily news and leaves out the larger context the political actors within the story can use this form for promoting propaganda and go unchecked with inconsistencies in their own press releases, behavior and speeches. Personalization and dramatization give the news the feel of a novel or soap opera, fragmentation leaves it unfinished or forgettable.

The fourth information bias is authority-disorder bias. This type of bias paints the leaders and politicians within a situation as incompetent or questions their ability to restore order in a crisis or scandal. Of course, if the news paints politicians as unable to restore order, this heightens the dramatization. Then the news focuses on the personality of the politician being examined rather than the issue at hand. A consequence of this is the need for analysis on political figures rather than the situations that they are involved in. We want to see why President Bush did what he did after Hurricane Katrina rather than putting forth solutions and ideas for people to help.

With all of the information bias, it isn’t hard to see why many American’s have an inability to grasp or understand complex world issues. Though it may not be completely news organizations fault, they do have a part to play in how and what information their audiences receive. Personalization, dramatization, fragmentation and authority-disorder bias lead the audience away from larger complex issues and into trivial emotional stories. These information biases, of course, leave the news to be faulty and disconnected from more important and pertinent information.


It’s An Obama Weekend, Grammy And All.

10 02 2008

How wrong was I? While yesterday, I predicted a Clinton would take Obama out in the Main caucuses, even though the caucuses favor an Obama win. Of course, it did stay in his favor. Obama got 59% to Clinton’s 40%. 24 delegates were up for grabs in Maine.

I predicted it would go to Clinton because she is really strong in the Northeast, but going into Maine, Obama had great momentum with wins in three states and a US territory on the 9th.

Also, Obama won his second Grammy today. He won his first for spoken work album for Dreams of My Father, and now the spoken word album for The Audacity of Hope. He ties former President Clinton with two Grammys. Hillary has won a Grammy for It take a Village a few years ago.

I want to explore why Obama has only lost in one caucus contest. When I caucused, it was obvious that those who came in initially as a Clinton vote were really on the fence and really weren’t hard to pull over to the Obama side. My precinct had a very intelligent discussion and cordial. I think that most of the Obama people are a bit more researched in the issues and skilled in all forms of rhetoric. Pathos was the least of the persuasive speech that people used, all based off of the logos and ethos. I think this may be why Obama has a hand up in the caucus contests. Not that they Clinton camp can’t persuade and speak eloquently and passionately for the cause and issues of Hillary Clinton, but their is more passion and more eloquence behind the words of Obama supporters.

Of course, this is all personal experience speaking, but in Washington State, every single county was about 70% Obama to Clinton’s 30%. He didn’t lose a single county. That says a lot to me.

Here is a video of Obama in Maine yesterday. It seems with the primary schedule now, there aren’t any victory speeches. Just more stump speeches. But in this clip, totally speaks to me. As a college student, I have debt, and too much of it and I know it was a choice to take the loans. Yet, why do so many students have to get this to get a job. Most students now have to go and get masters degrees to be even more competitive in the job market. Barack Obama is will do wonders for our education system. No child left behind and Bush selling college students education to credit companies, a complete travesty.

OK, onto the video:

Obama Takes All States in Saturday Contests

9 02 2008

Barack Obama won three states and a US territory today. With the most delegates being awarded in Washington State, both camps were on the ground prier to the caucuses.

In Virginia today Barack told a democratic dinner, “Today, voters from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the heart of America stood up to say ‘yes we can.'”

Percentage wise Obama completely took out Hillary Clinton.

Washington State: Obama 68% Clinton 31% Uncommitted 1% (78 delegates)

Nebraska: Obama 68% Clinton 32% (24 delegates)

Louisiana: Obama 56% Clinton 37% (56 delegates)

US Virgin Islands: Barack won, but it isn’t like the US news media would give us the numbers. There are three delegates. My guess would be 2 to Obama, 1 to Clinton. Like in America Samoa.

Well that is the run down. Next up, Maine tomorrow and the Potomac Primaries, Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland. I believe that Obama still has an up hand in the next contests, except Maine, which I think Clinton will take.

Barack Victory Speech should be up soon. It came from the Democratic dinner in Virginia.

Caucuses in Washington State

9 02 2008

Caucuses were held today in Washington State. I live in the southwest section, which is usually pretty conservative, but there was a great turn out among democrats. Even more support specifically for Obama.

Washington State has 78 delegates, as well as 20 super-delegates. So for the Saturday contests, Washington was a coveted prize.

My precinct was Obama, 22 & Clinton, 5 in the end. We had 10 delegates, Obama, 8 and Clinton, 2. Which will now go on to the county caucuses in April.

Wow. Most of the precincts that meet in the same elementary school were highly dominated by Obama supporters. I honestly wish more people had shown up, however we had a great debate and very intelligent discussions. I was proud that these were my neighbors and that they showed up to be a part of the process.

So here is to a wonderful caucus day.

Hey You, Washingtonian! Part 3

8 02 2008

Tomorrow is caucus day here in the great state of Washington. I must make sure that everyone who is a democrat or whats to vote for either Clinton or Obama must, must caucus and not vote in the mail in primary. If you do the mail in ballot it will not count, since no delegates will be handed out for the primary. All of our 97 democratic delegates are for all the votes in the caucus.

The republicans will spit their delegates between the caucus and the primary. 18 for the caucus and 19 for the votes in the primary. Not so for democrats. So if you want your vote to be counted, go out and caucus.

Remember if you are registered for any party, but you wish to vote for a candidate in another party, it is OK. Go and vote. Just remember that if you vote in the caucus for a democrat you vote in the primary (mail in ballot) for a democrat too. No double dipping. You can’t vote for McCain and Obama. McCain twice, fine. Obama twice, awesome. Both? Not happening.

Washington does it a bit differently, but if you have any questions. Make a comment on my page, call your representative, precinct captain, or your party’s state chair.

Here is a link to find your caucus location:

Democratic Sites– put in your last name and zip code, or if you know your precinct number type that in.

Republican Sites– Clink on the county that you live in and then each county will guide you to your location.

Happy Caucus Going!!!!

Farewell, Mitt Romney

7 02 2008

Mitt Romney “suspended” his presidential campaign this morning, just two days after Super Tuesday. He only won in a few non-competitive states, and delegation wise, got clobbered by John McCain. During his speech he says, “If I forestall a national campaign I would be making it easier for Senators Clinton or Obama to win.”

Mainly he believe that it isn’t good for the Republican party to have debate about who they want to be their nominee. I understand that he says that the bickering between him and McCain would continue and there may be more press on Clinton and Obama, but there already is. Him dropping our really seems to make McCain the Republican nominee. Huckabee wouldn’t be able to catch up with the delegate count. Though I believe he wants to get the VP prize.

Mitt Romney, farewell to the flip-flopper of 2008. Almost as liberal as Ted Kennedy, and yet the conservative candidate. Here to seeing Ann Coulter stumping for the Democrats in the fall.

Mitt Romney’s Bye-Bye Speech:

Super Tuesday Candidate Speeches

6 02 2008

Listen to the wisdom of these 6:

First Mitt Romney-

Mike Huckabee-

John McCain-

Hilary Clinton-

Barack Obama-