Bias Can be Subtle


Here’s a screen shot from CNN’s website a few moments ago.  Bernie Sanders won the Michigan primary last night, even though average polls had Hillary Clinton up by as many as 20 points.

This is not political commentary  (the world has plenty of that already) but as someone who analyzes media and media coverage this fascinates me.   Even though Bernie Sanders won the primary, his name is not even mentioned in the above screen grab. (Except for the actual results, in the chart on the right.)

It’s not “Bernie’s Victory” – but it’s “Clinton’s Suprise Loss”.  The photo is Hillary.  The headline is Hillary.

I’m sharing this because we hear so much about “media bias”.  We hear people complain that FOX leans to the right and MSNBC leans to the left.  Whatever.  (I tend to think you can get your news from ANYWHERE, as long as you know and recognize your sources. But I digress.)

Typically – when my students think of media bias – they think of commentators who vocally root for one candidate over another.

I’m sharing this example to demonstrate that bias can also be observed in the silence.  In what they DON’T say.  What or whom they do NOT focus on.

News is created, sifted, edited and presented by human beings.  Keeping it objective is a nearly impossible task, and (frankly) bad for business.  Bias doesn’t necessarily mean negative coverage.  It can also mean silence.

We need to help our students continuously ask themselves “What is being left out?


(If you are interested in media literacy, please check out my book on eitherAmazon or Barnes & Noblethanks!)

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