quest report: “news media bias in 2008 presidential election” by Arvind Diddi

Submitted by Aubrey Mulvey

This Quest program was a content analysis of the television coverage of the 2008 presidential election through broadcast, cable, and public television. The program started with Diddi giving an example of bias in media. He pulled up an article which had the headline “CNN is less biased than Fox.” The speaker of the quote was none other than Newt Gingrich. This has drawn attention back to bias in media, particularly in television. Apparently Newt Gingrich made this claim feeling Fox was biased towards his political opponent Mitt Romney.

According to the presenter, news viewership has seen an increase in the past year. Network TV evening news is watched by 21.6 million people during a presidential election. It is very important that television reporting remains unbiased, given its effect on public opinion and influence on registered, undecided voters who are following the campaign by night to try to decide where to vote. But viewers are becoming increasingly aware of media bias. According to the presenter 55% of Americans believe news media is politically biased. This is a 10% increase since the 1980s.

We then broke down the television coverage of the Obama vs. McCain campaign. Diddi said 846 stories having partisan assertions were published by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and PBS — 425 of these stories were favored by Democrats, 48% of the stories were favored by Republicans and there was a balance of about 10%. It was also noted that cable and public television gave stories for both parties fairly equally while broadcasting networks appeared more uneven.

This was an intriguing program which brought more attention to the ethics of media.

Taking a stance

I wasn’t quite sure what to write about in this week’s blog, and I decided to write about Tyler Clementi.

This past week a freshmen at Rutgers University named Tyler Clementi died after jumping off the George Washington bridge. Most of the time, when I read about kids killing themselves, I’m often times apathetic to hearing about it. Now hear me out, I don’t mean to be rude or uncaring, but when someone takes their own life, it’s obvious they didn’t care much about themselves, so it’s often times hard to feel sympathy for someone who takes their own life.

However, in the case of Tyler Clementi, I felt absolutely distraught. For those who don’t know, Tyler ended up jumping off the GW bridge through embarrassment of what his college roommate did to him. His roommate recorded him having sexual intercourse with another male and posted it on the internet for the world to see. Through this invasion of privacy, Tyler took away his life at the age of 18 with a bright future ahead of him.

Being a supporter of gay rights and an overall humanitarian, this story hit very close to home. It really got me thinking though. What kind of world is it that we live in, where people are mocked so much so to the point of suicide? Why do people have to see the world in sexual preference, age, race, gender, etc? Why does the world put so much emphasis on who people are born as, rather than their own personal character? I get it, people judge other people, it’s inevitable, but why do people put so much emphasis on race, sexual preference or gender, rather than their personality, moralistic values and overall character?

In my Comm 100 class, I spoke up about how I support equality of all forms. I said something to the effect of how, to this day, I don’t understand, why in conversation people still feel the need to point out ones race or sexual preference when they’re just people. Just because they are different does not make them outcasts in today’s society. I mean, how many more lives must be lost through suicide through discrimination and bullying before someone takes charge and stands up and says enough is enough? When do we as a society decide that this needs to stop? When does the world stop seeing in black and white, and see everyone as equals?

I’m heartbroken over this whole situation, and I’ll still wonder what it will take to prevent a tragedy like this to happen again. All I can say is, my condolences go out to the Clementi family, and I personally and taking action to raise awareness on equality, acceptance and prevention of bullying. It’s going to be hard, but all it takes is one voice to stand up for something.