(The Knife Media) After the initial reports of Mueller’s indictments broke, news outlets had a lot to say about their potential effects on Washington. The four sources we examined departed from the data of the story (the indictments themselves), each presenting a very different outlook using opinion, implication and spin (bolded). Here’s a snapshot of each bias.
(The Knife Media) When the Kurdish referendum took place last month, The Knife wrote about how sensational, imprecise or subjective terms (or, spin) made it harder to understand what happened and what the effects of the vote could be. After the Kurdish president stepped down on Sunday, we looked at the same outlets as we did last month and found a similar problem with spin in their coverage
(The Knife Media) The news is essentially that Twitter released its Q3 report, announced it would no longer sell ads to two Russian networks, and said it had used an incorrect calculation to estimate its monthly user base. It’s also a fact that the company is not currently profitable
Is Chinese President Xi amassing power? Media reporting with drama instead of facts. | The Knife Media
(The Knife Media) The CCP changed its constitution, and media coverage used sensational language and selective quotes portraying President Xi and the party as amassing more power. However, only some outlets include specifics about what might change after this policy shift, which is more informative. Still, this data may be colored by the sensationalist tone throughout.
(The Knife Media) While the U.S. justice system seeks to adhere to due process (which is fair treatment through the judicial system), the media often uses bias and sensationalism to sway the court of public opinion. Depending on the media’s portrayal of events, readers may prematurely decide someone’s innocence or guilt, often before a case has even gone to trial. Such is the case here.
The articles we analyzed on the Kate Steinle case presented two stories: the details of the trial, and the supposed issue of violent crime and immigrants in the U.S. See how the media bias in each can limit critical thinking and the way we approach such problems.
(The Knife Media) When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Japan would hold an election, we showed how the media mixed fact with opinion in its coverage. The media kept with this trend when reporting on Sunday’s election itself. Specifically, the outlets we analyzed presented a number of opinions about the election results and what may occur as a result, but at times this subjective information was presented as though it were fact. When this happens, it can discourage readers from asking critical questions that could promote a more impartial, consistent and objective view of a news event.
(The Knife Media) Dramatic and vague terms can create powerful impressions, and when they’re coupled with an absence of data, the combination can be limiting because the impressions aren’t backed by facts. In logic, it’s called an “appeal to emotions” fallacy, which is attempting to win an argument by manipulating emotions, instead of using factual evidence and logical reasoning.
(The Knife Media) The New York Times and The Hill suggest Tiberi is going to resign because he’s “frustrated” with the Republican Party’s inability to pass major legislation and the “gridlock” in Washington, and that there’s a pattern of congressmen resigning out of frustration. However, Tiberi said he was resigning for personal reasons. So suggesting that his choice was due to “frustration,” when that isn’t what he said, promotes a biased understanding of his decision, and negatively portrays the party.
(The Knife Media) When Ksenia Sobchak announced her candidacy for Russia’s presidency, news outlets could have provided a lot of useful information, including details on her political platform, or noting she’d be the third woman to ever run for president in Russia. The articles we analyzed questioned and criticized Sobchak’s credentials, but not in a balanced, data-based way. Instead, they used opinion and implication to trivialize or disparage the candidate. Here are seven techniques we identified.
(The Knife Media) The media coverage we analyzed on the Raqqa operation starts off similarly — using spin to suggest that it’s a major success in the fight against Islamic State. For instance, The Wall Street Journal’s lead sentence says the operation was “driving the extremists from a Syrian city,” and Fox News says IS “was dealt a massive blow.” If people stop reading after the first few paragraphs, they may have the impression that this was a clear victory in the effort to stop the violent organization, which may be an oversimplification of a complex issue.
Jens Erik Gould
Jens is editor-in-chief and co-developer of The Knife Media, a digital publication that presents news without bias and rates media outlets on their level of objectivity.