Tuesday, July 17, 2012

BBC vs. US News: unbiased reporting

I've seen this image floating around the internet, from Facebook to Pinterst to "iwastesomuchtime".
I found this exact image on GoogleImages, from "Stealth Magnolia" 

On our trip to the BBC, I remember our tour guide saying that BBC had no commercial sponsors, and therefore they could be completely impartial. They would never have to skew a story just because an advertiser did not agree with the depiction of the story.

Earlier in the summer, I remember debating with some of my older coworkers about the news. One claimed how he loved the O'Reilly factor, and I scoffed. The conversation eventually boiled down to expressing my frustration with the news. Every time I turn on the TV, the coverage is so extremely opinionated. I asked why I couldn't just find a source with the facts? I would care more about the War in Iraq if I actually knew how many troops are sent, how many were killed that day, and the actual contributions they make. That way I could draw my own conclusions, instead of having the anchors make them for me. My co-workers responded with "yeah, good luck with that". 

So why is American news so skewed? Do taking political sides invoke more interest in news stories? Or is it simply because we work with the similar opinionated? What about those who want to know what's going on in the world without flashing our political stance on it? I think I'll switch to BBC. Not only will I learn more about worldwide news that the USA tends to overlook, but I can bi-pass the American political extremes.   


  1. From the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:

    Act Independently
    Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.

    Journalists should:

    —Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
    — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
    — Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
    — Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    — Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
    — Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
    — Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

    I repeat: Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.

    As a professional journalist, I stand behind this Code of Ethics.

    It is very interesting to note that this meme lists four TV channels and not news papers (being CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and the BBC).

    It comes from a media literacy stand point, that you have to understand where the news you are getting is coming from. (Here is a nice little link I'd recommend you all take a look at: http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/)

    When you are watching these American 'news' channels, what are you actually watching?

    Someone reporting the facts, or someone commenting on the facts?

    Just be very careful when you take in the news. As I posted earlier, the BBC is not always correct. It may be because of the lack of 'someone to answer too' that they let things like falsely identified photos slip past. (The used a copyrighted, 9-year old image from Iraq to illustrate the happenings in Syria).

    As the first thing they teach you in any news reporting class: If your mother says she loves you, check it out.

    Always, ALWAYS, check the source. . . not just for gathering the news, but for reading it as well.

  2. One more thing:

    It is the sad truth that reporting is a part of the news INDUSTRY. News agencies have to make money; it is an inevitable part of life. I know I won't be making a ton of money as a photojournalist, but for me, I feel it is my duty to share the events of the world. I have the power to help and communicate to the entire globe.

    But I still have to be able to eat and have a place to sleep. I have to make money.

    If every news organization was like the BBC, where would the industry go? With no competition, there would not be an industry.

  3. I agree that it’s a challenge to find an actual news source that gives you the straight, simple facts. But I would agree with Cody that the reason this type of source is so scarce is because all these different news providers are competing for a share of the market. One will dominate the crazy liberals, another will cover the crazy conservatives, and another will cover the conservative liberals. If everyone just reported the facts, and didn’t put some kind of unique spin on it, there would be no point in having multiple news providers. Many of these news providers write stories with an intentional slant in order to hold the attention of a certain type of viewer. I personally don’t think it’s harmful, unless the viewer is completely oblivious of the slant…, which I think is most often the case. It’s a sad truth that most people are media-illiterate - especially when it comes to the news.

  4. I think it's also important to consider other institutions' effects on the media. In this case, you need to look at the state of contemporary American politics. Try to find me anything or anyone that is non-partisan or even moderate nowadays. It's becoming increasingly rare. The political climate is so bi-partisan, so of course the news organizations are going to reflect that as well. When your audiences leans so heavily one way or the other, you're going to give them what they want.