Bias in the Media
In this investigation I am trying to find out what bias there is in the media and how it is communicated to the reader.
The first part of the investigation involved studying the difference between fact and opinion.
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As a class, we used textbooks that had two articles in them - Bias in the Media introduction. We read the articles and checked for any opinions that appeared to be facts.
An example of an opinion that appears to be a fact was in an article about V05 hair dyes and colours.
“It’s the first semi-permanent range to include vibrant fashion shades!”
This is written with great authority and therefore appears to be a fact, but this is obviously not a fact because it is the view that the writer of the article has. This person thinks that the shades are “vibrant fashion shades”. However this may not be the opinion of another person. Another person’s opinion could be that there are already vibrant fashion shades in the market.
Another example of an opinion ‘dressed up’ as a fact is in the Vosene advert.
“It’s not going to put a stain on your wallet either”
This is definitely an opinion because some people may think that this is not true and that the product is expensive.
A fact is something that can be proven that it is true. An opinion is what someone believes.
Therefore there are many examples of opinions that appear to be facts in everything we read. Though some of what we read is actual fact. It is quite obvious that many articles use this technique. You can not prove that the product has many “vibrant fashion shades” because people can argue that there are or there are not.
We then compared two fictional news articles, one that was a negative article, one that was a positive article. They were both about the same event.
The class was divided in half and either a positive or negative article was given to each person. When we had read through the fictional article on Sir Sam Hughes we made a list of positive or negative adjectives about him.
The headline tells us straight away which article is positive and which article is negative. “Hughes Fired From Cabinet” is negative. It gives a very pessimistic first impression of Sir Sam Hughes. However the other article’ headline is “Sir Sam Steps Down!” This gives a very positive first impression of Sir Sam Hughes.
The negative article omits the positive things that Sir Sam Hughes has done or changes them to seem negative. Likewise the positive article omits negative things out of the article.
The negative article describes Sir Sam Hughes as an “incompetent minister” and “shady”. These are very negative character descriptions. Contrasting this, the positive article says positive things about Sir
Sam Hughes. It says that he is “competent” and that he has “tireless energy”.
I found out that newspapers are bias about certain events or against certain people. This article is a good example because the one article is ‘for’ Sir Sam Hughes and the other is ‘against’ him.
The next stage involved a closer study of the language used in different news reports. To do this we used, once again, a fictional article. This time we paired off and was given an article with a choice of adjectives. We were told to make a negative article so we had to choose from a positive and negative article to suit the sentence. A good example of a negative adjective is “smuggled”.
In this activity I learnt that by choosing a particular adjective you can change the meaning of a sentence. You can make it sound positive or negative towards the person or thing. ” ‘Such talk is all lies,’ snarled Humphery” The adjective ‘snarled’ is very negative. If we had used ‘said’ instead it would have sounded more positive.
This shows me that newspapers can influence their readers by using a particular word or phrase.
The final stage of our investigation involved producing two newspaper articles based on some item of news! We were given some facts about a story. From these fact we had to write a positive article and a negative article about the police involved in the story.
In the negative story I chose to omit positive things about the police ad in the positive story I chose to omit negative things about the police. I also used particular adjectives to influence a reader, for example “riot” in the positive article. The headline is the first thing that influences the reader. It should be either positive or negative and give a hint of what the article is about.
I was given two copies of the same picture and I cropped them so that they look positive and negative. The positive article had a picture of a skinhead youth that was shouting at the police. However in the negative article I have a picture of a young girl being beaten.
From this I learnt that it is quite difficult to write an article that you want to be either for or against something. This is because you have to select certain things to add to the article or not and you also have to use certain vocabulary that will entice and influence a reader.