TRACKING PROPAGANDA TO THE SOURCE: TOOLS FOR ANALYZING MEDIA BIAS

John Mpofu

Abstract


The news media plays an essential role in society, but surveys indicate that the media is widely viewed as biased. This paper presents a theory of media bias that originates with private information obtained by journalists through their investigations and persists despite profit -maximizing news organizations and rivalry from other news organizations. Bias has two effects on the demand for news. First, rational citizens are more skeptical of potentially biased news and thus rely less on it in their individual decision-making. Second, bias makes certain stories more likely than others. This article provides an overview of some useful approaches to understanding the sources of media bias and what to do about them. Bias is often said to “be in the eye of the beholder.” There is some truth to the fact that the psychological phenomenon of “selective perception” leads to “cognitive dissonance” when we are exposed to views very different from our own. But the reality of bias is a much broader and systemic problem when analyzing media, especially given the potential harm.

 

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tracking propaganda, analyzing media bias

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References


Bozell, L. Brent III, and Brent H. Baker. And That’s the Way It Isn’t: A Reference Guide to Media

Bias. Alexandria, Va.: Media Research Center, 1990.

Herman, Edward S. “Balance a Foreign Concept in International News.” Extra! 4,7 (October 1991): 1, 3.3

Lee, Martin A., and Norman Solomon. Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media.

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New York: Lyle Stuart, 1990. Revised ed., 1991.




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