Sunday, May 18, 2003

unjustly accused

Update: copy editors write headlines, reporters don't. however in these examples the headlines do seem to accurately reflect content of articles.

April 19 Letter from Mike Pasner to Union making the claim that the reporting is biased (1 example among several given: "The headline March 25 should have read: "Supervisor Bedwell Breaks Law for 8 Years...")

but I shall leap to the paper's defense here, sort of, wielding Occam's razor and claiming that we need not invoke reporter's bias as an explanation.

The "somebody thinks Bedwell screwed up" article is here ("Foe's complaint bedevils Bedwell"); I recall the article as basically being "Bedwell's enemy is trying to get him in trouble".

The "somebody thinks Conklin screwed up" article is here ("Conklin's new job raises eyebrows"), the article primarily sticking to the issues involved and barely mentioning that the eyebrows reported as being raised are those of "foes".

When a journalist is deciding how to frame a story, it's easy to cue off of whatever the protagonist views as the story and issues. And the protagonist's view, aka mindset, (once again) is a function of projection. So the current supervisor sees his problem as "I'm being attacked by an enemy", and presents it as such and it's written up as such, where the former supervisor sees his problem as "there are concerns about ethics and here's how I address those concerns", and presents it as such and it's written up as such.

so by merely following of the path of least resistance, the unbiased reporter can write an article that appears slanted.

(For a fascinating account of projection and the professional media's acceptance of it in the last presidential campaign, see this article on the use of fuzzy math in the Bush-Gore debates.)

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