SCRAPETOOL N© 1994
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Bias in the media seems to be a fast rising catch phrase for all that is hateful in our current news environment. Accusations fly as to news stories being too politically correct and how once again the liberal media has overstepped its bounds. In actuality, very strong arguments have been made in opposition to this claim, but are seldom found in the mainstream news. All of this bantering, pro and con, keeps the news viewer from digging deeper. The media presents a model of the world to the viewer, who is unable to experience the event directly. News broadcasts seem to have three central, reoccurring themes; 1) the world is not a safe place, 2) those in power know what they are doing and 3) doubting these people could bring about disaster and doom for everyone.
How does the media build bias into its presentation? First, by constructing its argument using a polar formula. Only two choices are given and both are framed in such a way that the particular slant of the story remains. Will Clinton win by a narrow margin or a landslide? The underlying opinion is reinforced with either choice. Underlying opinions are also reinforced with the use of various editing techniques. First, the producers can edit out any dissent. Segments or remarks which do not reinforce the points the broadcast is intended to make can be removed. Second, the use of loaded language in the overdubs help to distinguish the segment's bad guy and cast a favorable light on the hero. Another powerful tool is editing out of sequence to imply that events occurred in a particular order. It is very hard to believe what we see, when tapes can be cut, spliced and pasted in any order to reinforce a point.
A related area of bias is the various methods used to imply guilt or wrong doing. This is usually done by insinuation or use of so called "facts" to prove this guilt. If a person refuses to answer a reporter's question, that person has something to hide, and therefore, must be guilty. Another method is to use irrelevant facts to prove guilt. Because Tanya Harding fell three times at practice, her inner guilt was beginning to surface.
This issue of SCRAPETOOL is an exercise in interacting with the manufactured news environment.
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