In 1897, Adolph S. Ochs, the owner of New York Times, created the famous slogan, "All the News that's Fit to Print". New York Times carries this slogan even today in its banner.
In print media, today's headline may as well be,
"All the News That is Printed to Fit" our agenda.
If you want conservative news, you got it - Liberal news, likewise.
But objective non partisan news? Not a chance.
For sometime now, I do not to trust any news that is printed or announced.
After I read any news headline my immediate question is, "What is source?"
If it is "Huffington Post", "Salon", "Newsmax" or "Politico", I can guess exactly what the slant would be. I don't even have to read the story.
During the pandemic of 2020-21, when there was an escalation of the number of cases, the news media would highlight the numbers every day with a dramatic urgency. There would never be an explanation that the number of people tested had also been rising. A more useful statistic might have been the percentage of people found positive to the virus among those tested.
On the other hand, when the Covid-19 cases dropped by 47% from the daily average of 260,000 new cases in January 8, 2021 to 136,442 in February 3, there was hardly any mention of the downturn.
There was a big fear mongering about all the variant strains of the virus. But not enough reassurance about the fact that all viruses mutate and this is a natural phenomenon.
During civil unrest in Washington, D.C., in June 2020, following George Floyd's death, it was impossible to get an honest unbiased report. The liberal and conservative media were interpreting the news based on their view point rather than just reporting the facts. Based on the reporting, you could not determine whether there was excessive police force used in Washington, D.C,. or whether the rioting needed that action. Similarly, in Portland, Oregon, during May-June 2020, George Floyd protests turned to vandalism and invited Federal action. News sources gave vastly different interpretations. The public at large was left guessing the real situation.
The press can never handle good news. Even when we have three vaccines in the market within a year (by all accounts a miraculous achievement) the news media only covers the stories of the few people who do not want to be inoculated.
In an article in National Public Radio (NPR) August 3, 2012,
"Same News, Different Spins" shows an example of biased headlines.
NPR News item: "163,000 Jobs added in July; Unemployment Rate rose to 8.3%".
Fox News Headline: "Wrong-way Growth: Jobless Jumps in July as Hiring Remains Low".
NBC News: "U.S. Economy's Job Growth revved up in July"
According to Brent H. Baker, Vice President for Research and Publications at Media Research Center, there are several types of Media Bias.
Bias by Omission: Leaving one side out of an article to prove the reporter's biased view.
Bias by Selection of Sources: Only quoting opinions on one side of an issue. Use of phrases like "experts believe", "most people believe" and "Observers say" to reinforce their biased conclusions.
Bias by Story Selection: Choosing stories that coincide with the author's view and ignoring opposing examples.
Bias by Labeling: Using extreme labels like Racist, Fascist, Communist, Ultra Conservative, or Ultra Liberal the reporter can plant an opinion in the reader's mind.
Bias by Placement: The reporter can always place his/her opinion based news in front of the other view point in a story. The newspapers often place stories with their favorite headlines first and give secondary importance to other news.
People who clamor for objective news, mention the period of 1940 though 1980, as the golden age of print and broadcast journalism.
I still remember reading commentaries by thought provoking writers like, David S. Broader, Walter Lippmann , Shirley Povich, James Reston, Theodore White, Ruth Montgomery and many other stellar reporters.
It is unfortunate that these experiences have become rare.
As Mark Twain said,
"There are laws to protect the freedom of press's speech,
but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press".