How to slant a news article
Note: As mentioned, my personal blog has been less active than formerly for a number of reasons both professional and personal. One is that I’ve launched a self-syndication venture. Here below is an example of one of my columns. You’ll note the style is different from my more rambling blog style. I’ll be posting my columns a decent interval after they go out to my subscribers so as not to give away what they pay me for. And I’ll be posting some of my previous submissions to get them out before potential customers (hint.)
I have a confession to make, I practice slanting news stories. In fact, sometimes I lie awake at nights thinking about how to do it.
However I sincerely hope this never shows up in what I actually write!
The reason I practice slanting news stories is that I study the practice and collect examples of it. Eventually I hope to write a book on the subject.
And gentle readers, there’s a lot of it going around – but I probably didn’t have to tell you that.
It’s done by both liberals and conservatives, and in fact each side has a think tank devoted to finding “gotcha!” examples of the other’s biased reporting. Not to be confused with Our Side’s fearless reporting of the truth with a capital “T.”
Nonetheless, anyone looking with an open mind is going to find more examples of liberal bias, but only because slightly more than 90 percent of national news reporters self-identify as “liberal.”
From MSN, Feb. 18. “In a rare display of openness, Sarah Palin took questions for an hour yesterday at an appearance on Long Island in New York. She’s still unsure of a presidential run:”
“Rare display of openness…” Not much doubt which side that writer is on. The comment is entered as a kind of toss-off, without support or examples of why this display of openness is “rare.”
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. The point is, the statement is unsupported and the writer clearly expects you to take it on his/her say-so.
Notice something, this was probably unconscious. The writer may not be aware of writing a biased piece, and might be wounded should you suggest they did. They were just stating a self-evident fact that “everybody knows.”
That’s just the kind of thing that happens when you only hang around with people you agree with.
Another way to slant a story is to seize on a gaff, a clumsy misstatement, or a quote taken out of context, and hammer on it. If you’re a public figure who has to speak off the cuff into a battery of recorders often, there are bound to be some of those.
Conservatives are still getting a lot of mileage out of John Kerry’s, “I voted for the bill before I voted against it.” But… in the ordinary legislative process a bill may go through a whole series of rewrites, and amendments before it reaches its final form. Even the senator or representative who wrote it might not recognize it anymore.
It’s entirely possible to vote for a bill as introduced, and find yourself unable to vote for the finished product.
You can do this with photos too. Some people are naturally more photogenic than others, but if people are following you around snapping photos constantly, we’ll there’s going to be a fair number of unflattering ones in the bunch. Everybody yawns, grimaces, scratches themselves, etc from time to time. Snap a photo at just the right time…
Or better still, cull the archives for photos and take your pick.
As a journalist, I have a question about the ongoing media circus around the tragedy in Florida, where a neighborhood watchman fatally shot an African-American teenager.
Whatever the facts of the case may turn out to be in the long run, if they ever do emerge amid the agenda-driven coverage, I’d like to know two things.
One, is a five-year-old mugshot of George Zimmerman in an orange prison jumpsuit the only photo the media could find of him?
Well perhaps so, Zimmerman is not a public figure. But is a years-old photo of the victim
Trayvon Martin as a mere boy the only photo they could find? Surely a high school football player must have some yearbook photos around?
A whole book could be written about the subject, and someday I intend to. But in the meantime, this is an election year and you shouldn’t trust the media not to be advancing their own agenda through biased reporting.
Trust no one!
Except me of course.