Bias at the DTH?

I’m a few days behind here on this topic. But it’s the summer.

In this week’s edition of the DTH (it comes out on thursdays during the summer) there was a front page story about Bush’s July 4th visit to Fort Bragg entitled “Joy, anger in Bush’s visit.” Go to the Web site and you can see some posts calling the article biased and some vehement defenses of the article. In the DTH general blog, summer editor Chris Coletta defends the article as well.

“It by no means ignores the president’s positive comments, which were definitely part of the story,” Coletta says. “However, it also finds a way to examine a different side of Bush’s visit — namely, the feelings it conjured up for a variety of people on an Independence Day that saw the country confused about a controversial war and a controversial leader.”

The article is 780 words long, of which 199 words were dedicated to quoting two of the protesters that were at the event, 319 words cataloguing a wife of a servicemen and two officer’s feelings about July 4th, and 262 words about what Bush had to say.

So, in a way the article is balanced. It gives equal coverage to Bush’s words, Bush’s detractors, and neutral sources. However, the 199 words quoting the protesters come in the first half of the article. And considering the fact that many readers just read the first half of an article, it’s easy to see why one might view this as biased. Furthermore, is an equal share of time given to detractors and neutral observers really balanced? There was somewhere in the ballpark of 15 protesters and thousands of soldiers at the speech. Should those two constituencies have equal air time? You decide.

3 comments

  1. Well, if you consider that the reporter could have found soldiers who’d criticize Bush if they wanted to be reprimanded and disciplined, yeah, it’s balanced.In general, Bush goes to these events to shield himself from criticism and wrap himself in the flag. They’re cheap photo-ops. So exposing Americans who quite respectfully have a different view of things and are exercising their right to do so, which isn’t often covered, was a good move on the DTH’s part.

  2. “So exposing Americans who quite respectfully have a different view of things and are exercising their right to do so, which isn’t often covered…”I have to disagree with your view that Bush’s critics are not often covered. Bush is criticized everyday in the majority of the country’s newspapers. Journalists don’t even respect him enough to call him “President Bush.” They call him “Mr. Bush” or just “Bush.” And as far as covering protesters, they are in the media a lot considering how few of them there are. Because controversy is highly valued in news, the media tries to make things controversial when they’re not. If Bush said the earth was round, the New York Times would quote the one guy who was mad because he believes the earth is flat.

  3. Journalists don’t even respect him enough to call him “President Bush.” They call him “Mr. Bush” or just “Bush.”Since when is it disrespectful to call someone “Mr.” or by his last name? And almost any article I read will call him “President Bush,” so I’m not sure what you’ve been reading. Also, the same was true for Clinton.

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