Thesis: Media Bias in the International Media People

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Media Bias

Bias in the International Media

People all over the world depend on news agencies to find out what is happening in the world around them. Humans are curious by nature and like to know what others are doing. They depend on news agencies to provide them with the information that they seek. They expect that information to be true and as honest as possible. Standards dictate that good journalism presents both sides of a story and digs for the roots of the situation. It does not favor one side or the other and presents the facts in a fair manner. However, the question asked of every reader is if these goals are achieved.

The following will look at two of the most well read domestic news sources and it will compare them to two of the most popular foreign news agencies. It will analyze them for both the different types of stories that they cover and the slant, if any, that they place on them. The analysis will focus on headline news only. These sources were followed for one week and are summarized as follows.

1.0 New York Times October 26-November 2, 2009

The biggest headline in the New York Times was the U.S. War with Iraq. Rather then presenting unbiased information about the war, this article presented the personal opinion of the reporter on the results of the long and bloody war that has been going on since 2003. The article strongly suggests that the war has done little to change the social scene in Iraq or to change sectarian ideology. The author feels that the divide between the different factions in Iraq has a long and traditional history. The author does not feel that the American presence has or will have any effect on changing the social attitudes that breed hatred in Iraq. This article only provides one side of the article.

H1N1 was a big news item for the week in the New York Times. A number of articles in the New York Times this week focused on the swine flu. Topics included a shortage of vaccines, shortages of ventilators, and other issues concerning the flue epidemic in the United States. One of the key articles probes the issue of who should receive a limited number of ventilators in light of the flu pandemic that is currently sweeping the country. Public health officials fear that rationing of ventilators will fuel social unrest. The purpose of the article was to increase public awareness of the potential crisis. It could be accused of sensationalism, although the potential scenario painted in the article is a real threat. It uses an emotional appeal to stress the importance of the problem.

The three biggest newsmakers in the New York Times for the week were, in no particular order, the H1N1 epidemic, the financial crisis in the U.S., personal views on the war with Iraq. News articles on the war with Iraq tend to stay away from real facts now and have degraded to editorial-type articles that somehow make their way into prominent positions within the paper. Articles no longer provide daily casualties or reports on intended strategies.

2.0 National Public Radio (NPR).

H1N1 was also the key topic of National Public Radio for the past week. In one article, concern over any problems with the vaccine was highlighted. Health officials are carefully monitoring to make certain that there are no reported problems with the vaccine. They claim that there have been no reported problems, but data is beginning to come in that suggests otherwise. The article provides both sides of the story and simply highlights the dilemma being faced by health officials without giving any particular opinion.

Another article explores the issue of marketing difficulties with the flu vaccine. Both of the articles on NPR focused on the need to convince the public that they should get the flu vaccine and of its safety. Eroding public confidence in the government is a key factor in the ability to convince people that they need to get the flu vaccine.

NPR reported on a suicide bomber in a Pakistani militant operation. Other than that, domestic issues dominated the news for the past week. Frontline, a product of PBS focused on the war with Iraq and the situation in the Middle East. Articles focused on Tehran and protests around the world the centered on the topic. Between Pakistan and Iran, Frontline tended to support Iran, demonstrating Pakistani attempts to provoke or harm the Iranians.

Coverage on Iraq included the establishment of a fund to help Iraq rebuild. Other coverage includes news on Obama's plans to withdraw troops by next August and the affect of the elections in Iraq to delay this action. The NPR account of troop withdrawal simply stated the facts. It presented both the Iraqi side and Obama's side. It did not seem to support the viewpoint of either. NPR also presented a factual account of H1N1 fears among the Iraqi people.

3.0 People's Daily

The People's Daily is one of the most widely read English papers in China. As with U.S. papers, the H1N1 virus topped the headlines concerning a number of issues. The Chinese Ministry of Health has officially disapproved of an online rumor that the H1N1 outbreak in Beijing was caused by the vaccine itself. The H1N1 virus continues to be a source of public fear in China. The Chinese health minister has issued statements designed to ease the fears of the Chinese people.

Articles focused on efforts to contain the virus. In general, the articles highlighted the success of government programs to contain the virus. Reading these articles contrasted with those in the New York Times, which highlighted the problems and the inability of the U.S. government to avert disaster. The Chinese articles had a positive spin and appeared as a means to pacify fears in the public.

Other news commented that President Obama has declared Karzai the official leader of Afghanistan. The story was short and factual, with no apparent bias. Another article on the same topic was also found with the same straight-forward approach. The second article told that Obama plans to increase troops to Afghanistan to ward off the Taliban. The U.S. war with Iraq does receive some coverage in the People's Daily. The articles found were very factual in nature and did not take a personal view on either the war or the actions. It limits its reporting of the events to the number of troops killed and any factual actions by both sides.

The People's Daily reported on the adoption of a resolution honoring the birthday of Confucius. The article interprets as a positive sign that Chinese culture is being accepted around the world. In general, the People's Daily reports news from other countries as factual, attempting to put no bias on it. However, news about the Chinese and tends to highlight the positive accomplishments of the Chinese people, such as building the world's largest Internet infrastructure and a positive financial outlook. The People's Daily paints China is a decidedly positive light, but is careful not to insult other nations. In the People's Daily, one did not find articles about crime and social problems. Domestic news in the People's Daily focused on diplomatic visits and tended to accentuate the positive.

4.0 BBC

Coverage of the H1N1 virus took a backseat to other headlines in the BBC. It may be noted that the BBC tends to use the term "Swine Flu" over the term "H1N!" In its news coverage. The cultural reason for this is not known, it is just an observation. Coverage of the virus urges the Brits to "brace" against it. The BBC provides an interactive global map to track the spread of the disease. A special report on the flu told Brits what to look for and its affects certain demographic populations. The report was factual and provided much better public information than the sensationalized reports found in the New York Times.

BBC is not only the most widely read news agency in England, but also has a huge international readership as well. It may be noted that the careful avoidance of anything negative about China in People's Daily did not apply to the BBC. News highlighted the jailing of a Chinese crime Godmother and the XinJiang violence. The BBC was highly critical of the police action in XinJiang, which was called an effort to increase stability in the People's Daily. A trip around the globe via the BBC reveals a disproportionate number of stories about criminals that have been caught and jailed. The BBC decidedly supports U.S. President Obama and his efforts to restart Middle Eastern peace talks.

Concerning the BBC's coverage on the U.S. War in Iraq's, coverage tended to highlight Great Britain's role in the war, particularly UK casualties. The BBC terms the U.S. presence in Iraq an "invasion," suggesting that it does not support previous U.S. actions. It highlights the negative impact of the war on… [END OF PREVIEW]

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