The News About Politics

May 2, 2016 |  Tagged , | Comments Off on The News About Politics

Politics are a controversial topic in society. My mother always told me, when meeting a new person, never bring up religion or politics. Why? Because people have strong views about each.

Well, this year, we are undergoing a presidential race. You know what that means: ads followed by more ads followed by news reports of the debates and much more. With this controversial topic, there are proper ways to go about reporting it. Bruce Scheid, former reporter for KTIV in Sioux City, IA, was asked about the best way to report on hard topics. He said:

“Controversial topics are difficult to cover.  Mostly because it requires a great deal of research to make sure all sides are covered fairly.  A house fire is straightforward.  Often, quotes from authorities and witnesses will be enough.  That is not true for some controversial subjects.  They often need multiple comments from several sources, some of which would rather not talk to a reporter…”

The ethical issue behind this is fairly obvious. The media play a key role in what news consumers receive regarding presidential candidates and politics. With the information being filtered and some information going unreported, it is easy for viewers to sway towards a certain opinion based on what is being covered or reported on.

The media, especially in regards to politics, has a responsibility to remain objective at all times, avoid words and phrases that present bias, and report each side of a story. This is a responsibility of the news as well as a right of the public.

The goal of objectivity in political or controversial news should be a strong focus when it comes to reporting, as Scheid mentioned, however, it seems less and less attainable. On March 25th, CNN ran a story interviewing democratic and republican representatives regarding Ted Cruz and Donald Trump’s twitter fight. Donald Trump made a statement about Ted Cruz’s wife. It turned into a debate about Trump and his ability to run a country. The host was more responsive to the guests on the show that were not supporting Trump. The one woman who was giving strong points in favor for Trump was not given much time to speak and received condescending remarks. At one point, she wanted to make a comment and the host said, “If you can say it in 10 seconds then go ahead.” Yes, these interviews have time limits, but he gave the gentleman speaking against Trump a large amount of time to say closing remarks. Now, in this case, I do not believe that host was intentionally showing bias, however, it did come across that way.

The way that the media reports political news can be difficult. It often times is bias reporting hidden under facts. What I mean by that is, news reports can have accurate information and facts, but they are presented in such a way that still lead the reader to make similar conclusions that the reporter did. An NPR audio clip, discussing Donald Trump, states that the media is having a hard time reporting on Trump. For example, the Huffington Post, who formerly left Trump related news to celebrity or gossip reporting, now attaches an editor’s note to every article about Trump. The note calls him a “serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, and bully.” Other reporters, however, have tried to avoid this form of labeling. Jill Abramson, former executive editor for the New York Times, states that labeling terms should not be used. She instead advocates for highlighting context. Abramson’s view is a wise one for all reporting, but especially political reporting.

Again, it is important for political reporters to be aware of their potential influence on society and adhere to the expectation and code of providing unbiased information.

(Other relevant information can be found here.)


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