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Fair and balanced, eh?

[ by Charles Cameron — Guardian reporting on Gaza and Mali, weighed in the balance and found wanting? — with Fox News for company ]
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I frankly don’t for a moment buy that Fox News is fair and balanced, but then I don’t know if any news source is, so let me try to be a little even-handed here myself, and take a gander at a couple of recent Guardian headlines, using my SPECS format to display them:

I’m not the first one to juxtapose these two headers — there’s a site called CiF Watch that monitors the Guardian (specifically) for signs of “antisemitism, and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy” and it brought these two Guardian posts together with the comments:

The contrasts in language, tone and narrative focus between a report by Harriet Sherwood on Israel’s November conflict with Hamas and a recent Guardian report on the French war against Islamists in Mali represent an exquisite illustration of the paper’s egregious double standards. …

In Sherwood’s report, the deaths of Palestinian children represent the overwhelming narrative focus. The fact that the IDF was attempting to target Hamas terrorists is only mentioned in the strap line, and even then is qualified with the word “believed”.

In the report by Hirsch and Hopkins, on the other hand, we are informed via the headline that militants are killed, while the deaths of Mali children are only noted at the end of the strap line.

On the one hand, I appreciate this kind of close reading as an analytic technique, while on the other I can’t really expect editors to check previous possibly comparable events to make sure their treatment of breaking news is immune from this kind of criticism.

That’s a quandary, IMO — but not yet a quagmire.

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Forget the question of whether Fox News is more or less biased than the Guardian – or should I call them Faux News and the Grauniad? — and just think again about our passions, about how they can blind us, and about how that blindness can manifest in emphases, in choice of words or images — in so many conscious and unconscious ways.

We need to deploy considerable mindfulness if we are to explore, read, filter, balance and comprehend the world around us — with anything like the nuance required for making wise (rather than lop-sided) choices…

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Sources:

  • Mali conflict: militants killed as French air strikes pound rebel camps, Jan. 13, 3012
  • Gaza: four children killed in single Israeli air strike, Nov. 18, 2012

  • 2 Responses to “Fair and balanced, eh?”

    1. Chris Says:

      Both the Guardian and Fox News suffer from the fact that they are as much entertainment sources as they are news sources. They’re trying to generate that little rush when your brain’s reward system kicks in because you’ve read/watched something that fits with your preconceptions. Both therefore have locked onto ideological positions and present entertainment in the format of news with that in mind. I’d suggest that the Guardian is less naked about it (in that part of their ‘brand’ is anti authority – speak truth to power) than Fox, but really neither can claim to be seeking to do anything but make their readership/watchership(?) happy.

    2. Charles Cameron Says:

      So we just have to slip behind their backs to provide a more nuanced picture, eh?
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      I’d be interested in your take on how conscious or unconscious the difference between the two Guardian headers is, Chris. 


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