Argument Synthesis: Can Biased Media Be 'good'?

1642 words - 7 pages

Bias, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary is “a preference or inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment.” Using this definition of bias as a lens for analysis, we will examine how bias affects the quality of media. The question that is the basis of the analysis is whether media that is biased can be “good,” or whether the presence of any bias within media makes that media “bad.” Solutions to this question can be split into two camps: Bill Moyers and hRobert McChesney see bias as inhibiting the ability of media to inform; Jeffrey Jones and Henrik Örnebring and Anna Maria Jönsson think biased media can be “good ...view middle of the document...

In this example of the corporate elites “defin[ing] the news and decid[ing] what to cover,” (Moyers 3-4) the media shows a bias: the populace is not enlightened on this issue and therefore cannot easily come to their own conclusions.Robert McChesney believes that the media’s concentrated and intensifying connection with capitalism has rendered it incompatible with the enrichment of democracy and argues that the media has actually become antidemocratic. According to McChesney, in a democracy “social decision making and power [should be] as enlightened and as egalitarian as possible” (McChesney, 2). The media’s role in his prescribed enlightenment and egalitarianism is to “[serve] the entire population and…[promote] democratic rule” (McChesney, 5). Instead, McChesney finds that corporatism in the media forces it to “use history…in [a] flawed and self-serving manner” while it propagates the myth that “professionalism in journalism is democratic and protects the public from nefarious influences on the news” (McChesney, 7); McChesney sees that as bias. Since the bias in corporate media is a fundamental reason it is antidemocratic, McChesney, who considers contribution to democracy the role of the media, finds that bias is incompatible with good media.Örnebring and Jönsson’s tabloid media, with its focus on all things sensational, is clearly a biased form of media. The original tabloids, “penny papers” like the New York Sun, were created for the “common man in a time where newspapers usually aimed for a more affluent… audience,” (Örnebring, Jönsson, 288). Unlike the traditional 19th century media, they did not focus on the mercantile news of their time; instead, they exploited humanity’s tendency towards emotions through stories of crime, scandal, and social causes of the working class. In the language of Habermas, this new form of media created an “alternate public sphere” – an alternative form of media that provided news for the common man.Stories in these tabloid papers used muck-raking techniques and sensational headlines (Örnebring, Jönsson, 290) – techniques that go against the “journalistic integrity” that the other camp vouches for. Despite its bias, the use of these techniques by tabloids served to provoke awareness of issues not necessarily presented by the mainstream media, thus creating a legitimate alternative public sphere that propagates the issues of the working class, allowing them to become more knowledgeable of the issues of the day.Jones’s article additionally argues that The Daily Show is part of a contemporary alternative public sphere, which provides similar information as conventional media forms in a different format. The article summarizes the differences between a cable parody news program, in this case the “Daily Show” by Jon Stewart, with a m...


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