Editor-at-large Frank Denton’s column on Sunday, March 5, in which he responded to readers’ examples of what they saw as biased reporting, drew quite a number of responses. We printed some of them last week (see those at jacksonville.com/reason) and are printing the last batch of responses this week.
Frank Denton’s recent lengthy editorial write-up came as a surprise and startling revelation as to what in fact contributes to the premise that modern media suffers from a perceived bias in its coverage and reporting. He states that most mainstream journalists “adhere to a code of ethics that demands accuracy, fairness and impartiality.” Such a claim is altogether fitting, altruistic and very proper but fails in its application if linked to this guiding principle that Denton provides in his further analysis, quoted as follows:
“A good writer is taught to not only tell something but also to show the reader.”
Say what! To show rather than tell belongs in creative writing classes, where the concept allows the writer to use inventive, imaginary, fictional, hypothetical, nonexistent, theoretical, assumed, whimsical, trumped-up or whatever means of expression helps sell the story.
Show tactics belong to best-selling writers and authors who have mastered the art and know how to tell a good story.
The news reporter’s job is to provide the public with known facts, the objective truth and nothing more, without resorting to a concerted effort to capture the reader’s attention with catchy phrases or spinning a slanted news presentation. Reporters ought not embellish their work with quick grabbing nuances, emotional hints, innuendos, sway tactics, suspense jargons and suggestive wording designed to impress editors, peers and the public through misleading, clever presentation, unfounded implications and suspect extrapolations.
To do otherwise may cause the public to interpret objective news reports according to very personal and unique standards, values, beliefs or prejudices that belong solely to the subjective reader. And, alas, what remains is a biased news report.
You did a good job with today’s extremely long article. It is hard to defend the paper when almost all of your writers and editors are personally aligned on the liberal side of most issues, and especially on the issue of our new president, but you did just what you had to do.
Matt Soergel definitely exhibited his own liberal bias in that front-page article. The unidentified 60-year-old must not read your column very much because you do exhibit a liberal view in your writing and the places and people you choose to visit and write about.
The news coverage bias that I have noticed recently is Katrina Brown.
In every story about the debacle of not really ever getting a “plant” going or producing jobs or paying loans, taxes, etc. the reporter will include, we left a message for Ms. Brown but she didn’t reply, or something along those lines. She didn’t even show up to vote for the human rights ordinance, yet the story offered up a lame excuse for why she wasn’t there then, too.
Your editors are hesitant to really pursue this story, why? Because she is black? Or because she is a woman?
I would submit to you that if Doyle Carter or Don Redmond or one of the other conservative white councilmen had so blatantly abused their position and was bilking the city out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the hue and cry from your afternoon editor’s meeting would be ferocious instead of nonexistent.
Fair or not?
Peter “Pedro” Bragan Jr.
I think the Times-Union did a good job addressing a subject that can never have an answer that everyone is comfortable with.
I recall a landmark case during the Vietnam era when a general sued CBS not because of what it aired, but what it chose to include in its news story.
The public is unaware of details that seasoned reporters (and editors) leave out of stories, sometimes for the public good. For example, when a reporter has to cover a tragic fire, they report the facts and not all the grizzly details.
There is some truth regarding media attitudes that are shaped by the way they are treated by subjects that are in the news, but I think it’s safe to say even a little bias is human.
N.E. Floridians who think our paper has a liberal bias should read the Times: “All the news that’s fit to slant.” One day, there were two sports articles.
One was about Iran beating the U.S. in some wrestling tournament, but the focus was that the match almost didn’t happen because of Trump’s entry policies. Then the story about the UConn women’s basketball team: if they win the NCAA tournament again, will they accept an invitation to the White House, which was never in question while Obama was in residence. OMG, as the kids would say!
I am happy to see the newspaper is finally acknowledging that there is too much bias in reporting. I have tried to find a positive AP article about Donald Trump for the past 18 months, but have seen none at all. Reporters should be banned from using the words “could,” “would,” or “may,”i.e., “If Trump does X it could, would, may cause Y.” I will not read an article with those words in the headline because I know they would be opinion, not factual reporting.
I was going to write you and say I saw several extra periods after Trump’s name, bias?? LOL! But decided the experiment was too important to yuck it up. Nevertheless, it seems to me lots of people are angry, and jumping on any detail to find fault. I have said before that the T-U 20+ years ago was far right of center, as was the community when I arrived here. My sense is that the right leaning is much lessened. So, as my “mama” would say, you can stand on your head and spit nickels, and you will still have detractors.
Personally, I am giving up Phil Mickelson right now to write this. So, what the heck can any of us do, who want to see the truth reported and confirmed and reconfirmed if necessary? There is an assault on the media and on truth right now in River City and pretty much everywhere else. I am 75 and remember the stories about Hitler’s Germany, and the same kind of assault on truth by Goebbels, etc. My job is to work hard to defend the democratic process, free speech, and to support the political party of my choice and, oh, by the way, get off my duff and do something besides send money. There are lots of reasons for the predicament we are in, but to me, the greatest sin is that of “silent majority.”
Good Lord, for me to try to recommend to a newspaper is “way above my pay grade.” Yet, we all must protect the truth and expose untruth in all forms of government. Without the watchdog, stuff happens. … So, I maintain we need a paper that confronts dishonesty where ever it is found, especially in government.
A very good analysis of the Bias or Fact news info. My only concern was that you were too apologetic for the journalistic/reporters who wrote toward a liberal bias.
Thank you for showing the AP’s responses to his search for truth in reporting at the T-U.
The AP responder showed their predetermined narrative in almost every answer. By saying (without knowing it) that these are just continuations of previously written hit pieces.
Or by saying the story wasn’t about anti-semitism but about the timing of the president’s response …
The point was surely clear that the AP is at the very least suspect of collusion with liberal Washington bias. Their “reporters” should go to “flyover country” now and then to find out what a majority of Americans really think. Then they would understand why so many voted against their ilk in the last two election cycles.
The main point for the T-U is this: Don’t print AP stories as real news just because it fills up pages. Put them in the op-ed where opinion pieces belong. If the story has a predetermined narrative, then it’s not news reporting.
I thought the idea of everyone looking for bias in news stories was interesting, and I carefully read most news story during the week. As I did, I was mindful about the most pervasive bias of all — not “liberal” or “conservative” — confirmation bias.
While reading a story, viewing a photo, or seeing where a story was in the paper, I could find in some an argument for why “that” (whatever) was biased in favor of “Libs” or for “Cons.” Not that the story was biased, of course … just that the argument could be made with at least a plausible shred of evidence. I didn’t find any standout bias locally or in the wires. Nothing that would rise above what I would call “arguable interpretation.”
I bought a new car recently, a brand that I’ve not owned previously. When I did, I started noticing them all over the place, and thought that I was part of a wave of smart new purchasers of this great brand. Then I read that the sales on that brand were actually down. I was seeing my own “bias” in action. My brain was filtering the blizzard of data that my senses pick up, just as it should. Libs are tuned to see signs of Con bias, and Cons tuned to see Lib bias. As the great philosopher Gomer Pyle said, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”
And my granddaughter thinks that your new title is “cool” — “Editor at Large. Cool … it sounds like he escaped, or something!!” “Yes, in a way, Kayley…”
I have been a subscriber for 30 years to this paper. I almost dropped it completely during the elections due to the OBVIOUS bias; especially all the crap you reprint from AP. So, now I am trying the paper for the three-day-per-week deal as I have you on evaluate mode.
Let me tell you a little about who your longtime (maybe ordinary) subscriber customers are in this JAX area family.
We are a family of three generations of Navy combat pilots. …
I speak some Arabic, Spanish, Italian, French and am partially literate in American! I believe I have some grasp of international affairs and the workings of our government. Politically, I am an Independent and lean toward Libertarian.
In my former life, we were trained in psychology; body language; and other “social arts” that help detect and define the beliefs and so, the true motives of our adversaries.
This skill allows me to conclude Sunday paper’s long-winded “ ’splainin’ ” of how unbiased you guys who control the content of your liberal biased paper is a classic giveaway that you believe the paper is, of course, biased.
Obama gave you guys (the press) a big pass to his inside guys and you liked it.
You collectively did his bidding and gave his program in return a big pass and, in numerous cases, were his advocates in the arena of racial division and rancor.
Trump, with good solid reasoning, finds your community to be so hostile, so biased, so racially divisive, so petty that he concludes it is best for this nation and his programs to secure our borders, build the military and return American jobs; he simply is leaving you all behind — and so are your readers.
Capt. Jeff “Hambone” Hathorn
You should be Correspondent of the Day!
Our fast-turning paper, from conservative to liberal, here in Richmond, The Times Dispatch, also prints WAPO and AP junk for the great unwashed.
I’m with HAMBONE on this!
John R. “Dick” Pitman
I applaud you for your efforts to be more objective in your reporting on our president. I like the way you explained the thought process of the Times-Union on several stories. This type of introspection is what many news media need most, yet they refuse to do it.
Unfortunately, the AP spokesman, Mr. Daniszewski, remains mostly unrepentant in his views that the AP is not biased. The AP needs to undertake a major look at their institutionalized bias.
In Sunday’s paper (March 5), why would the paper approve of Terry Dickson in the Georgia comment on Page B-8, starting an article about police by making a statement about Trump, which has nothing to do with the article. “Every time you see Donald Trump, he’s complaining about fake news … There was no reason to start the article in this manner other than to take a jab at the president. This was a lazy, biased way of beginning an article that began with Mr. Dickson’s personal attitude towards his “Trump position.”
Why not in the news discuss how the Left purports to being tolerant … of gays, lesbians, immigrants, etc. “Let’s hear their voices.” And yet when someone disagrees with them, there are protests, even riots. They are only tolerant of hearing your voice if you agree with them.
These constant problems should be reported every time. This is not fake news!
The recent Women’s March omitted issues they could have supported for women throughout the world. Their omission of these issues is newsworthy.
If women are truly concerned about women’s rights, they should have marched, with signs and strength, against human trafficking, genital mutilations and female infanticide to limit populations. March for women who have no voices and are victims of violence and abuse.
Today’s article, where others have expressed dissatisfaction with the views and personal inclinations of The Florida Times-Union, reassured me that I am not alone in my frustration with your publication.
We have lived here almost five years and initially we felt the paper was fair and objective.
But now we believe the paper has moved to a different viewpoint … and we plan on not renewing our subscription because of this slant.