(Synthesize this) Many public figures often blame the media for many of their problems and have encouraged people to boycott news sources they believe are unfairly biased. This has prompted many news organizations to tout their objectivity, claiming they do not make value judgments. Many news organizations have adopted slogans such as “News you Can Trust” and “We Report, You Decide” in order to assure society they adhere to the most important virtue of journalism. News organizations claim that they are merely stating facts and allowing people to formulate their own opinions based on the information.
However, even in a medium where there is such an emphasis on remaining objective, biases still exist. By examining the selection process of front page news articles for a newspaper, one can see how biases can still exist in news production. In their book, Media Society, David Croteau and William Hoynes emphasize the importance and meaning of front page newspaper stories. By running a story on the front page, they write, the paper is saying that event is one of the most important events of the day. Those are the stories that will be seen on people’s tables at home and on the newsstands on the street, making their selection process the most important decision of the day.
A lot of factors define what stories land on the front page. The decision is ultimately made by a group of editors. Croteau and Hoynes assert that these editors define newsworthiness daily by considering the article’s timeliness, expected impact on community, and the prominence of the participants in the article. These editors are human beings whose goal is to sell papers; they are making business decisions when they decide what goes on the front page. The news they choose is going to be shaped by their professional conventions and values. There are many more articles than can fit on the front page, so the editors have to decide what goes on the front page.
They will choose the articles they believe that are the most significant events and also the articles that will appeal to their constituents. These editors are thus making decisions about what events, people, and views are important, which allows their personal and professional biases into their paper. Crime news is another prime example of the biases newspapers have when deciding what to put in their paper. There are many biases in the selection criteria of the news, as mentioned above. Newspapers put in stories that will appeal to their constituents. Newspapers put a lot of crime stories in the paper because they believe there is a public fascination with disruptive behavior.
The recent trend of successful voyeuristic television shows supports this claim. (GET NAME) Katz, in his book, Media Culture and Society, wrote that basically all of the scenarios of the crime stories reported on from day to day are the same, just with different dates and people. However, he claims, “the crimes do not become newsworthy because of what they tell about crime” (50). Instead, people read the stories because they call morals and social norms into question, which people are interested in. A study conducted in Chicago showed that news readers could recall crime stories better than stories about education, Congressional activities, conflicts in the Middle East, and their state government. Katz says that newspapers make it seem like much more crime is taking place than really is, explaining, “The picture one obtains about reading crime in the newspapers inverts the picture about crime one gets from reading police statistics.
A study examining 30 years of front page crime news stories in 9 cities found that violent crimes made up 70 percent of the crime news stories. However, in reality, violent crimes only made up 20 percent of the crime rate. Newspapers know that people want to read about crime so they over represent it in the newspaper. There will always be bias when it comes to selecting the news.
News selection is a human process governed by many different professional and organizational conventions and norms. There are millions of events taking place each day but only limited spaces to report on the events. For this reason, news organizations will select stories and issues that will interest and inform their constituents. The news organizations and journalists will “shy away from news that could hurt their own firms, themselves, or their ability to obtain the news” (189). (CITE THIS IN GANS) News production is also a business; its goal is to have the most readers or viewers. Only after news organizations select what will be covered in the news, do they strive to be as objective as possible.
Objectivity, however, can never completely exist in a human institution. Croteau and Hoynes insist, though, that “the ideal of objectivity… is ultimate.