Way back in graduate school I did newscasting on KNTU 88.1 FM in Denton. Doing that gave me some insight on how radio and TV works. The biggest thing I learned is that there is incredible bias in the media. How do I know that personally? Before I was on the air I of course noticed a left leaning tilt in the stories that were heard on the news, KNTU included. I wondered why there was so little conservative oriented material. When I was on KNTU I found out the answer. There is a lot of right leaning material on the wire services it just never gets read. As a newscaster on KNTU you got to pick your stories from the wire services and read them on air. And that is exactly what I did. I picked the stories that were favorable to conservatives all of the time.
Now doesn’t this mean I personally injected bias onto the airwaves? Of course it does. I did the same thing that the more liberal newscasters did on their own shows. And that same picking and choosing still goes on today. You can see the vivid difference between the content of Fox News compared to just about everyone else. While the press is supposed to report the facts they most always present one side of the story more than another. Because of this bias, some of it is natural of course, the individual has to decide on their own what the truth is. You certainly will not get it from most national news sources. Fox News’ adage of “We Report You Decide” is really “We Distort We Decide” for many outlets and their politically driven “journalists” (gerbilists perhaps…err…I won’t go there). This is a sad but true fact in our modern age.
Managing the content is also a major factor in what you see on local news as well. The other day at a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) function we discussed the response a Fort Worth Police Officer got from KXAS (Ch5 NBC) on a request for covering a Police/community service event in Fort Worth. To the shock of the Officer he was told that Dallas was the primary market and the Fort Worth story would not be covered. This was from a Fort Worth TV station that had been on the air here since the 1940s. Amon G. Carter is certainly turning in his grave as a result of that statement. The point here is that what you see on local news is also driven by someone deciding what you will see. Just as I chose my stories back in 1983 an editor producer does the same thing now based on the rating that might be received in the market they are serving. Thus the editor decided that the 1.75 million people in and around Fort Worth were not a big enough market to worry about. In many cases these news types are not from here and know very little about the area except in pure Neilson driven demographic terms. Thus they make all decisions without any thought of the local culture or history. Much to the dismay of people who live in places like Fort Worth who seem to be forgotten more and more or are painted as hick-filled backwaters to be ignored as irrelevant.
All in all the news media is driven not by reporting unbiased fact but instead is herded in a lemming like fashion by hordes of producers and editors who care little for their communities. And the national news fete set is driven mostly by ideologically decisions. While all of us have our preferences politically the news media has strayed far beyond the idealistic vision of it being an unbiased and factual guardian of our Republic. As far as a solution to this large problem goes about the only thing we as individuals can do is to choose what we watch, use the TV control to filter what you see. And most importantly use your own mind and do your own research, try reading some serious non-fiction books for example, to find out what the truth is. One can determine what the facts are. It just takes some work. Perhaps in our hectic and busy culture more of us should take the time to be less busy and be more informed.