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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Media should keep bias where it belongs

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Is the Standard Democrat a biased newspaper? I think that's a legitimate question. If you haven't noticed - and surely you have - journalism has changed a tad bit over the years. Activist journalists are as dangerous as activist judges. Perhaps even worse. So let's make a distinction. This column is an opinion piece and it virtually reeks with bias. As an avowed and longtime conservative, I strongly favor self-reliance and less government intervention. I am clearly biased in that direction. But that's the nature of an opinion column. This newspaper offers a whole host of alternative views that allow the readers to share their bias as well. But we are very careful that this editorial slant does not impact or alter the way we cover the news. Or so we hope. But on the national scene, there is increased bias in how stories are covered, which stories are covered and how they are presented to the public. This bias ranges from the ultra-liberal New York Times to the equally conservative Fox News network. We may not like it, but it's there. Interestingly however, you can't fool all the people all the time. A new Zogby poll out shows that 83 percent of the American public believes there is a bias in news coverage. That is an amazingly large number. Clearly the American people are smart enough to recognize these biased reporting outlets. Good for us! And just to prove a point, 64 percent of Americans believe the media leans far to the left. Just 28 percent think reporting leans to the right. As you would expect, virtually all Republicans (97 percent) believe the news reporting is liberal in their slant. And amazingly again, nearly 70 percent of Independents believe that as well. Democrats, as you would expect, don't agree. Yet interestingly, a sizable number of Democrats, too, believe the media is left-leaning. So when Hillary Clinton says that the media has a "right-wing conspiracy" against her, she's fairly isolated in that thinking. Most Americans would believe that the Honorable Mrs. Clinton gets a free pass from the majority of the national media. And most Americans believe that is wrong. A journalism professor many years ago explained the power of words to a group of aspiring journalists. He gave as an example a politician who was asked a delicate question. The politician opted not to answer the question. So do you say the politician "declined" to answer or "refused" to answer. Both words are accurate but convey far different reactions among readers. All members of the media should keep the bias where it belongs - on the editorial pages. When that bias creeps into the news coverage, they do a disservice to their readers. We hope this newspaper is fair, accurate and impartial. If not, we do a disservice, too.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen