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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Media Bias

Someone has to do something about debunking some of the more blatant media bias with which in Godzone we are afflicted. So, for your interest, edification, sport and amusement and for the run up to the election, we present “Fiink’s Media Bias Barometer**,” otherwise known as “Pin the Tale on the Journo.”

It’s pretty simple really. Set out below, with grateful acknowledgment to US blogger Cassandra** whose original work we have paraphrased, is a twelve point guide to biased reporting – The Media Bias Barometer. Block and paste it to your desktop. Then, all you have to do is send us the particular piece of fatuous unbalanced garbage (or a link to it) which has caught your eye, along with reference to points 1 to 12 on the Barometer and our experienced and impartial staff will allocate a “Bullshit Rating” to your selection and publish it on Sir Humphrey’s. Something like storm warnings - where Force 10 is about as bad as it gets.

(Any arguments about the accuracy of assessed Bullshit Ratings will be settled after receipt of at least 24 bottles of McLaren Vale shiraz). We will accept contributions from Lefties but we point out that as the vast majority of New Zild media appear to be heavily infested with Leftie journos, you might struggle to find genuine examples of Rightie bias.

Seriously though, we really are interested in publicising genuine examples of bias and all cases, left or right, will be dealt with fairly and on their journalistic merits or demerits. Naturally, professional journalists are banned from contributing.

No doubt Russell Brown and his acolytes will write us off as Hammer Chewers because, like most bloggers, we didn’t go to Journo School and we failed to serve our fifteen year apprenticeships writing riveting reports on calf clubs for the Wanganui Cronicle but the fact remains that between me, Lemur, Lucyna and Zen there is at least 140 years of training as CONSUMERS of the crap that Russell and his mates churn out.

Without further ado, voila!!


1 The Lie. Yes, the plain outright damnable lie. In the US “George Bush was a draft dodger.” In NZ “All Government policies are needs based” and “All race based policies have been rooted out” and “unemployment is at a record low” and “ the Commissioner decides the allocation of police resources” and “The PM looked a picture today.” The biggest lie of recent times has been MSM reporting from Iraq.

2 The Memory Hole. Where certain embarrassing facts are deliberately left out and no longer referred to until the public perception becomes - they never existed. In NZ “Maoridom did particularly well under the Ministry of Sir Doug Graham” or “Closing the Gaps was the flagship Labour policy for Maori”

3 Ventriloquist Journalism. The Labour/MSM gets others to do its dirty work “critics say…….” or “some say……..” or “reliable sources have told Radio Left wing News that …………..”

4 Polls. An offshoot of ventriloquist journalism, these are one of the more insidious forms of misinformation. Those commissioned by the MSM are either unreliable, blatantly false or self-fulfilling prophesies designed to assist the political friends of the MSM. The latest Herald poll or the latest TV1 poll.

5 Buzzwords. Labour/MSM will repeat a word or phrase often enough that it will take on a life and meaning of it’s own. E.g. “The poverty line” “Needs based policies” “working for families” “closing the gaps” “treaty principles” “targeted expenditure”

6 Co-ordination with Ninth Floor. No better example than Radio Left Wing News’ copious use of Government press releases for nearly every news bulletin, every day.

7 The Smear/personal attack. No worse example than the repeated and grubby media attempts to highlight the personal circumstances surrounding Dr Brash’s divorce and subsequent remarriage.

8 Euphemisms. The classic eternally shameful euphemism coined by the international media is the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe racially motivated mass murder and terrorism. Local examples include:- “concientious and hard working” to describe George Hawkins; “valued coalition partners” to describe the Greens; “targeted expenditure” to describe election bribes, positive outcomes to describe 239 mil Wananga dollars.

9 False appearance of fairness or neutrality. Look for the news story with 5 seconds from the National spokesman followed by 25 seconds from the Gummint. Also look for the set up where the Gummint spokesperson has been assisted and coached while the Opposition spokesman is given no warning of the questions beforehand. Consistent examples roll off Morning Report - childishly aggressive interviews with opposition party leaders and fawning patsy interviews with Clarke, Cullen, Maharey or Mallard.

10 Opinion masquerading as fact. This most common and dastardly form of media bias simply puts opinion into news stories instead of editorial. It can be achieved by the use of just one derogatory or pejorative adjective in a 1,000 word piece and that adjective can distort the whole tone of the article. Dr Brash’s Orewa II speech reported as Beneficiary Bashing. RLWNews' Checkpoint provides a fertile source.

11 The Race Card. Needs little explanation. Best example is Labour/MSM misrepresentation of Dr Brash’s Orewa I speech. Not one reporter seemed to have actually read what he said but before it was even delivered it had been reported as “Maori bashing.”

12 Issue exclusion. The wishy-washy alternative is presented as that favoured by the opposition with the gummint proposal hailed as all virtuous while the real opposition policy is ignored. Includes false alternatives E.g. Iraq with the issue being peace versus war rather than victory versus defeat. Support for increased gummint handouts without once mentioning the benefits of tax cuts.

AL's Candidate for 13 - Selective Joe Public quotes. Supposed opinions of people 'on the street' are paraphrased and presented as evidence for a storyline. Typically the range of opinions will be distorted to either include an equal amount of pros and cons, or to support the preferred storyline of the reporter. Also includes quotes from the 'person on the street' who just happens to be an acquaintence of the reporter in question.

AL's Candidate for 14 - Future prediction. Supposed future possibilities are discussed in a thinly veiled attempt at supporting one political viewpoint on an issue. Generally used to scare the reader. Often not supported by a valid historical precedent.

Posted by Adolf Fiinkensein | 4/12/2005 04:14:00 pm


Blogger Hans Versluys said...

Can we enter Republican talking points on Terri Schiavo? Or just anything that's not on Faux News or on anything else Murdoch owns?

4/12/2005 05:20:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

We're interested in NZ media bias, not American.

4/12/2005 05:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic Adolf - a great summary.

4/12/2005 08:33:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good, sounds typical. I wish more people on the right of the political spectrum would get media jobs, although news should be presented neutrally.

4/13/2005 12:32:00 am  

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