Four Factors that affect Reporting of News
Media is the most powerful mass communication tool to ever exist. Its tremendous influence shapes mainstream political discourses and helps reflect cultural trends. The media, which always posed a grave threat to institutions in power, has survived centuries of onslaught to reach where it is now. However, the unbiased nature and accuracy of both print and broadcast media cannot be termed absolute in nature. History stands witness to how the media is subject to the influence of various factors. News tilting towards a particular narrative is not impartial and factual. Whether it’s the bias of an individual reporter, or a government-run entity created to peddle news in favour of them, this article seeks to explore what could lead to the creation, instead of reporting, of news.
Media as a tool for raising awareness and as an accountability mechanism holds great significance in today’s times. However, it is also used to sell propaganda and falsely disseminate information. This can convey inflammatory messages leading to violence among different groups. Biased news can create divisions in society, hurt religious sentiments, and incite anger and resentment.
Factors affecting Reporting of News
Here are four factors through which bias seeps into reporting. It allows for the media to create a completely new report that is alternative to factual news.
1) Political Bias
Bias towards, or against a political party is one of the more prominent factors that tends to affect reporting. It is often noticed that parties sponsor media outlets that lean towards a particular political spectrum. This results in manipulated and twisted headlines that are far from ground reality.
Sensationalism exaggerates the scale of an event to gain more publicity. Such news toys with behavioural consumerism and human psychology. The news is designed to shock or surprise the audience by incorporating sentimental feelings which aid in gaining more traction. By employing such tactics, the media strays from a responsibility-driven industry to a revenue-driven one.
3) Advertising Bias
When media portals publish articles or news which is directed at pleasing their advertisers, it results in advertising bias. When such stories relevant to affiliated groups are published, it ensures that the news agency stays on their payroll and public opinion regarding the company’s image is also swayed and misled.
4) Concision bias
Concision bias occurs when the news published is largely accepted opinions that do not challenge established societal norms. When the media sticks to mainstream ideas, and does not raise questions, they sideline other perspectives in fear of being dragged into controversies, and to avoid offending the public. An example of this bias is when the media feigns ignorance for LGBTQ+ issues which do not represent the mainstream gender spectrum.
When the media reflects any form of bias, be it personal or institutionalised, it compromises authenticity. It is no longer reporting the truth, but creating it. Over the years, many methods have been devised to prevent reports inconsistent with the truth or to be more inclusive of different outlooks. A popular technique used to prevent biases is the round table, where representatives of opposing views gather to allow diverse perspectives to appear in the media. Another method is disclosing affiliations in order to publicly acknowledge the relationship of the news agency and the company about whom the report is being published. Unbiased media is essential to the survival of a democracy with both the producer and the consumer ensuring that they verify whatever is being published.
SY, BSc GIPE
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