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Bias in the News

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Frances Nicolaides

on 7 April 2014

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Transcript of Bias in the News

Every news story is affected by:
How could you say this in a neutral (unbiased) way?
What is biased language and what is not?
Let's Compare...
How to Detect Bias in the News
Not biased, just an objective observation
  Frank spends very little money.
Biased favorably:  
Frank is thrifty.
Biased unfavorably:  
Frank is  a cheapskate.

Can Bias be found in the News?

Consider these two sentences in a news story:

1. “A crowd of more than 900 attended the protest.”
2. “Fewer than 1,000 showed up to protest.”


of these people:

Monday, April 7, 2014
Vol XCIII, No. 311
What do you already know about bias?
Bias in the News
Be a Bias Detective!
The Bias Meter...
Bias is favouring one side, viewpoint or belief - being partial to "one side of the story" or prejudiced.

Bias is...

prejudice, a preconceived judgment or an opinion formed without just grounds or sufficient knowledge 

Propaganda is...

is a systematic effort to influence people's opinions; to win them to a certain side or view
The Bobcat Times
Bias isn’t always on purpose – sometimes it just “creeps in”!

By looking for it, you can spot bias and become a better journalist and a better reader.

(Leaving Details Out)
Bias Through Omission
Sometimes, certain facts or details will be cut out of a story, and others will be included.
This can change how readers or viewers think about the story.
Make sure to read several different sources to get the full story!

A news story can be written about people booing during a speech.
“The president’s remarks were greeted by loud jeers.”
“A small handful of people disagreed with the president’s remarks.”

Bias Through Placement
Usually, the stories that are chosen to be put first are seen as more important.

Stories in the back of the paper or at the end of the news broadcast are seen as less important.

For example, if a story about the disaster in Samoa is on the front page of the paper, it will be seen as more important.

If the story about Samoa is buried at the back of the paper, it will be seen as less important.

The images of someone in the news can influence how we think about them.

Bias Through Photos
Some photos can make the subject look serious, attractive, healthy, etc. and other photos can be really unflattering and make them look silly, ugly, sick, etc.

The way a person is described or labeled can influence how we think about them.

Bias Through Names and Titles
“John Doe, an ex-con, is now running for office.”

“John Doe, who was convicted 20 years ago for a minor offense, is now running for office.”

Numbers and statistics can be manipulated to change the way we think about them.

Bias Through Numbers or Statistics

“The fundraiser for the school earned only $1,100.”


“The school’s successful fundraiser raised over $1,000.”

Bias Through Word Choice
Leave the Reader with a Certain Impression
Loaded Words
The words and tone the journalist uses can influence the story.
Using positive or negative words can change how we feel about the news story.
We can also be influenced by a news broadcaster’s tone of voice.

“The politician presented his well-thought out and intelligent plan to Congress.”

“The politician presented his shoddy and disorganized plan to Congress.”

Can You See the Difference?
Bias Through Controlling the Source
Where does the story originate?
Who is the source of the story?
Whose point of view are you hearing or reading

Sources are important! You cannot always trust information from all sources.
Full transcript