Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What Is News?

On March 3rd CNN radio reported that the U.S. Army didn't meet its most recent recruiting goals. While this is a mildly interesting fact, the fact that it is news is one of those things that a conservative like me sees as media bias. It's more of a who cares item for anyone not intimately involved with the armed services. However, the war has become a political issue and therefore anything to do with the war has become a political issue. And judging from the Op Ed pages, there is a movement among a segment of the intelligentsia for a return of the draft. A story such as this is fodder to emotionally (not intellectually) support this.

The attempt of some to recreate the Viet Nam is a subject for another day, but the fact that this story gets prominent play hints that someone who assigns the stories for CNN is thinking along these political lines.

Being a radio veteran, I understand the slow news day problem, but on a day when a man completes a solo round the world flight without refueling, the 30 seconds they took for this story did have somewhere to go, perhaps to the Bush barnstorming of Social Security reform which was reported something like this:

Announcer: President Bush will begin a multi-state barnstorming tour to support his reform of Social Security, starring in New Jersey and finishing in Maine. Cindy Expert of the Institute Against Republicans says it won't work.

Cindy: Social Security is fine. There is no problem. The president is lying. The stock market is evil.

Announcer: The Government Accounting Office says benefits will have to be cut in the future, as soon as 2040.

This looks fair and balanced, but look a little more closely. Do you get the president or the announcer first laying out the president's case before it gets rebutted? No. Rebuttal without an argument is a very clever to tell one side of a story without telling the other. I do however admit surprise that the GAO information was even mentioned. Yes, I know the purpose was to show how far in the future before a problem will arise, but at least it concedes there is a problem, unlike Cindy Expert.

After all this, I'm not going to call for any changes in the news world. There will always be bias, no matter how the news is prepared and presented. In my mind, where there needs to be change is in how we listen.