Journalism and Rhetoric

Few bloggers out there offer better sustained rhetorical analysis of the media than Andrew Cline in his blog, Rhetorica. With fall semester kicking into gear, I’m still trying to think about some of the questions pertaining to this year’s election and the role of the media in framing it. With that in mind, I’ll be stealing links from Andrew over the next few days.

First, he points to Tim Porter’s discussion of the most recent content analysis of American newspapers by the Readership Institute.

Second, and perhaps more relevant to my English 1101 class, he addresses the question of media objectivity. Journalistic objectivity has been getting a lot of play lately because of films such as Outfoxed and F9/11, and I think that Andrew’s comments about the structural biases of journalism are very important here. As Andrew points out, the “fairness bias,” which requires a journalist to get both sides of the story, often prevents journalists from identifying clear lies in campaign discourse (and here he helpfully points to Bryan Keefer’s essay in the most recent issue of the Columbia Journalism Review). As Andrew succinctly puts it, “The fairness bias becomes a detriment to journalism when journalists fail to call a lie a lie–especially when the facts are plain to see.” He also complicates any simple notion of a political bias in the media, whether conservative or liberal, and because the Liberal Media Bias is one of our most convenient and ongoing cultural myths, I think it will be crucial to discuss and hopefully debunk that my classes.

Also useful: Andrew’s breakdown of various media biases and how they might play out in the coverage of an event.

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