Sunday, January 27, 2008


I just finished a new book, Empire, by Orson Scott Card. For those of you who are not familiar with him; Card is mainly science fiction author; his most famous works are the Ender's Game series. This new book is different from most of his others books as it is set in the United States in a near future (I think anytime from 2006 through 2020 would fit the setting). I won't add much more summary to this post, see or read the book if you're interested. I found the book an interesting portrayal of the results of partisanism, but this post is not about politics. What really struck me about the novel was Card's portrayal of the mass media.

In the novel the media is shown not as a reporter of the news but rather as a manipulator of the news. Characters in the novel are careful to choose their language so it will be "spun" the way they intend for the news. How does the Media manipulate what we think about world events? Does it matter to us what news outlet reports the news to you, Fox News or CNN? How can language an interviewee uses be turned to show whatever the interviewer wants, or fits with his/her ideology. Lastly, ethically/morally or on whatever scale you choose: should journalists try to avoid editorializing in their news pieces and attempt to remain objective, or should they present the events through the lens of their Ideology?

(I apologize for the long ramble but I found the book very thought provoking on this issue and others)


JuliaC. said...

I want to be a journalist after I finish college and I believe wholeheartedly that journalists should try their best to eliminate bias in the pieces they write. Sometimes it's hard, especially if you have strong feelings about the issue at hand, but a journalists' job is not to editorialize(unless they're writing an opinion piece of course), but to give the public the facts so people can decide for themselves what they think. Of course it is never possible to completely avoid bias, which is why certain news outlets have reputations for being either more conservative or more liberal, but you do the best you can.

Rick_Andrews_Director said...

I don't think it is possible to take away all bias from a piece of work, but I do firmly believe that the News Stations should simply report the news and precisely as possible. However, sometimes people add this spun language without even realizing it, it was just written that way. However, as much as people argue about the difference between news stations, say CNN and FOX, I never can see a real difference. Although me and my family do tend to watch FOX more often than the other news stations, it doesn't truly matter to me.

Anybody who has seen the movie "Thank You For Smoking" knows how easily language can be spun. All the tobacco lobbyist had to do was say one sentence the right way and he no longer became the villain in the argument. In this case, I can really see how effective of a tool, or "weapon" as some may call it, language can be.

These are just some ideas that came to mind, if you need me to clarify something more, I'd be happy to!

Rick Andrews

Mr. Pseudonym said...

I think that journalists are justified in attempting to manipulate the facts that the present. It is not the purpose of journalism any longer to try and solely give the truth, but instead to give an interpretation of the truth to be examined along side others.
If it was still the day and age where there were few people writing about the events, and it was far and between for someone to get something published I could understand the importance of "factual truth," however now that anyone can create a blog, or self-publish a newsprint I think it is only fair that the previous limitations be substituted for more interpretations of events to arise.
I say let the historians be accurate, let the journalists be sensational!

klneff said...

I'm in complete agreement with Wolf (asides from the historians being accuate comment; I feel history is often dependent on the interpreter/presenter.) The media today has no true obligation to publish the raw and "unbiased" facts--besides that, it is practically impossible. Relating back to Card, remember in Ender's Game (I'm sorry this is not italicized...) Valentine and Peter as young children are able to manipulate the media through their pen-names in such a way they create new philosophies that go world-wide. Just as in that case they argued that nobody was forced to listen to them, or even take them seriously, the same rule applies to reality. It is not up to journalists to create "the truth" for the public, but merely present possibilites as well as entertainment value.

Do you think people buy magazines such as Star or The National Enquirer because they really think Britney Spears married bat-boy or a vampire-sheep was found in Scottland?