Sunday, May 1, 2011

Biased Journalists to Be Blamed for Media Bias?

This entertaining YouTube clip (which I am having difficulty embedding here) speaks about media bias and discusses some of the reasons why it occurs and why it's not going to stop. We raised some of these points in class, such as the fact that TV networks want money and let the business aspect drive their "balanced" views, and that extremist news show hosts do what they do because it gets them more viewers. A point that he brings up that I don't think we spoke about so much is the fact that journalists are generally liberal. They feel they have to prove their side of things and win everyone over to that opinion, so they are the ones getting involved in journalism and adulterating the news to have a liberal slant. Do you agree? Are journalists generally liberal and agenda driven?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pop Ups and Internet Ads: Effective Political Tools?

As I was searching for something to post about this week, a pop up ad came up, as seen here:
I clicked on the "Vote Here Now" to see where it would take me (although usually I wouldn't do this pop ups for fear of viruses attacking my precious macbook), and this is the link it goes to:

This is a survey that asks several questions regarding a person's opinion on the new health care plan, other Obama bills, and the person's voting preferences. 2 Questions on this survey seem slanted in a way 

that makes Obama's plan look bad and could skew results to have people to oppose it. So obviously asking the question in a slanted way makes it a biased survey. Furthermore, people are only getting to this page if they are intrigued by the pop up ad, which generally means they are opposed to Obamacare, and want to have their voice heard.

Aside from that, the pop-up ad phenomenon is another form of "new media" that we didn't really discuss. It is interesting to me in particular since my father works for a branch of Google that deals with internet ads (this was originally DoubleClick, but it was bought by Google). In general, when an ad pops up on my computer screen, I close it as fast as I can. I hate the accumulation of windows on my computers and especially pop ups that I don't care about. Maybe that is why this ad is so striking: usually pop ups are about some vacation or some website that has no relevance to me, but this one was different. I wonder how much pop ups, and other ads on the sides of internet pages, can really affect someone's opinion.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Catch

One of the catches with media and publicity is that once information has been spread, the damage is done. It doesn't matter if this information was true or not, or if someone later comes out and changes their opinion or take on the events. Once the propaganda or story breaks, there is no turning back.

There are historical examples of this phenomenon, such as Watergate, but now a new modern day example has emerged: the Goldstone Report.

The Goldstone Report was written after a U.N. fact finding mission on the Gaza conflict, in response to Operation Cast Lead. The report was released in September 2009 and caused an uproar amongst Israel supporters because it accused Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity. This was another blow to Israel's reputation and definitely contributed to the growth of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Now, Richard Goldstone, the head of the original report, has announced that he and the other committee members regret the way they negatively portrayed Israel's behavior during Cast Lead. In this article, Goldstone faults Israel for not cooperating with their mission and thus leaving them without crucial evidence to prove Israel's innocence. In addition, he points out that the Goldstone Report is "the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas are being investigated and condemned by the United Nations." Furthermore, he claims that he did this to try to help Israel and change the bias of the U.N. against Israel. I think he's just saying these things to regain support from those who were and are enraged and outraged by the Goldstone's negative portrayal of Israel, now that he sees he was wrong.

The problem with this new found "regret" is that the damage has already been done. The Goldstone Report has been used to spread anti-Israel propaganda, and all the more so because it was headed by a Jew. Now that Goldstone is coming and in essence saying "whoops, it wasn't really as bad as I told you it was," it won't change the opinions of people who were affected by the original document. In fact, I predict that this reconsideration won't yield even nearly as much attention as the original report did.

Do you think this announcement will change world opinion towards Israel, or at least restore the opinion people had prior to the Goldstone Report? Do you think it will have any impact whatsoever?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"The Only Way to Combat Falsehood is to Tell the Truth": YouTube and Diplomacy

Today in class, we had to come up with different ways of campaigning and politically advertising using new and old media. One method that I suggested to my group was an idea that people could submit questions and the candidate could address these issues in a YouTube video that would be posted on the candidate's Facebook page, blog, and website. This idea actually wasn't so original; I had gotten the idea from the "World View" project, which encourages people to post videos with questions to specific world leaders and selected video questions are asked in an interview with this leader. I had not heard about this project, which began in January, until recently when I found out that they were going to interview Prime Minister Netanyahu. However, the organization has already interviewed President Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and Speaker of the House John Boehner. Today, the interview with Bibi Netanyahu was put on YouTube, and although it is long for a YouTube clip, it is very interesting and definitely worth watching.

This project definitely brings up new questions and shows the evolution of media. It is a good way of campaigning (or in this case, practicing diplomacy) because the people feel like you are talking directly to them, and answering their questions makes them feel important and satisfied. It is a more personal approach and it kind of reminds me of FDR's fireside chats in that it is the president or prime minister directly addressing the people and telling them what they need to know to be satisfied.

Although I've only watched Netanyahu's interview so far, I think it is a very interesting and innovative program. I did not appreciate the tone of the interviewer, but I think Netanyahu did a good job despite her aggressiveness. Although he was a bit repetitive, his message was clear: Palestinians need to recognize Israel in order to achieve peace, and that Arabs have a lot of freedom in Israel. It was important to educate people of facts they did not know, as Netanyahu himself says, "the only way to combat falsehood is to tell the truth."

This is what "new media" allows for: the politician himself to tell the people in plain words what "the story is." It is not being reported through a bias newspaper or television reporter, rather it is straight from his mouth to your ears.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Art of Word Choosing

In 2000, after a picture of an Israeli soldier was wrongly captioned, painting Israel in a very negative light, the website was created. According to their website, Honest Reporting aims to "monitor the media, expose cases of bias, promote balance, and effect change to ensure Israel is represented fairly and accurately." Although I agree with their views and opinions, I wonder if they can really claim honesty and accuracy when they are outright pro-Israel. Maybe they can claim it, but does the general public believe it?

Recently, Honest Reporting called out Reuters for "redefining" terrorism. The Reuters report on the terrorist attack in Israel on Wednesday afternoon claimed that a terrorist attack is "Israel's term for a Palestinian strike." A STRIKE?! This is a criminal act! Israel knows strikes; its workers go on strike all the time. In fact, right now there is a social worker strike. Social workers are refusing to work until they get better employment conditions. Despite this, the social workers strike has allowed social workers to do their job twice since the strike began over 3 weeks ago: after the Itamar attack and now, after the bus stop bombing.

A strike definitely does not accurately describe what Terrorism is, and a bomb planted near a busy bus stop is nothing short of an attack.

Like we spoke about in class, and came up with CNN's report on the Itamar attack as well, the words writers/editors use are carefully chosen to evoke certain images and emotions in the reader and this influences the reader's opinion on the matter. Clearly, Reuters chose this word on purpose. We need to continue fighting media bias and call for accurate claims and descriptions of events like these. I wonder if there are similar organizations to HonestReporting that call out these articles and reports that unfairly portray one side of the situation. I guess this is what many bloggers try to do. It is our responsibility, as individuals, to call for factual accuracy and fair portrayal of all people and nations.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

News or Citizens: Which One Do We Value More?

Four NY Times reporters are missing in Libya. Read the full story here.

This is not the first time reporters have gone missing or have been harmed, as the article linked above mentions. However, it is important to address some of the issues and questions that arise from this situation.

If it is the Libyan government who has taken them, presumably it is because they are trying to control the media and what is said about the revolution. How much can a government control? It's one thing if the government controls the media in their own country, but to kidnap citizens of a different country and try to control media in other countries? In addition, it doesn't really seem feasible. Even if they got these four reporters, there are hundreds more from around the world!

Another point I'd like to raise is the value of embedded journalism and war correspondents. We Americans like our news, and we like it from reliable sources (ignoring the bias issue). But how much is too much? How much is it worth to compromise safety and well-being of journalists. Obviously, these reporters do know what they are getting themselves into and that they are risking their lives to do their jobs, but is it worth the price?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Searching for Scandal

This article talks about the CEO of NPR, Vivian Schiller's resingation. After James O'Keefe posted a video of one exec badmouthing the tea party and saying that NPR should stop getting federal funding, Schiller resigned. The article mentions that O'Keefe had previously pleaded guilty to tampering with phones in the office of Senator Mary Landrieu. Now he had people go undercover and act like members of a fake Muslim group. They began a conversation with the NPR exec, eventually getting him to speak badly about the tea party and and media bias, and unlucky for him, they recorded it.

It seems to me that O'Keefe is fishing for scandal. He's digging and searching, almost trying to provoke people to say things or to catch them saying things that can get them into trouble. It may seem like watchdog journalism, but it seems to me like he's trying, in a sense, to create scandal.

It is also interesting to note that this article on had this story as their headline all day Wednesday, while CNN only had an article lower down on their page that linked to Entertainment Weekly. Even so, the article in Entertainment Weekly didn't say much about the details of her resignation. In class we talk about how each news source basically covers the same thing, but here they do not. CNN barely covered is and FoxNews had it as a headline all day. It is very interesting to note their difference in reporting and deciding what is important.