The Bias of the Lamestream Media

Or: How we decide when news is biased.

In this fascinating piece, Jonathan Stray reports how various factors affect we balanced or biased we perceive a news piece to be.

How do you tell when the news is biased? It depends on how you see yourself: This effect has been noticed before. At the University of Michigan, William Youmans and Katie Brown showed the same Al Jazeera English news clip to American audiences, but with a catch: Half saw the news with its original Al Jazeera logo intact, and half saw the same video with a CNN logo instead. Viewers who saw the story with the original Al Jazeera logo rated Al Jazeera as more biased than before they had seen the clip. But people who watched the same footage with the fake CNN logo on it rated CNN as less biased than before!

Does this mean that we judge “bias” by brand, not content? Many people have tried to define what media bias is, and attempted to measure it, but I want to try to answer a different question here: not how we can decide if the news is biased, but how each of us actually does decide — and what it means for journalists.

This isn’t altogether surprising, but its a very interesting look at how we perceive “bias” in the news. The question is what do we do with this information. Stray comments on what it could mean for journalists, but I’m interested in what it could mean for viewers. Are we capable of recognizing these tendencies in ourselves and correcting for them?

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