AP Math: 0.6% Rise is ‘Feeble’, 0.6% Decline is ‘Plunge’

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on April 9, 2008

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Read the excerpt below (from Noel Sheppard's March 27th post at NewsBusters.org).Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the question.

(from the NewsBusters.org post):
Want an even clearer picture of how media are intentionally reporting economic data in a way that makes the public feel things are much worse than they are?Go to NewsBusters.com for the original posting. 

Consider the different adjectives the good folks at the Associated Press use to describe a 0.6 percent change depending on whether or not it’s an increase or a decrease.

As reported by NewsBusters two weeks ago, when the Commerce Department announced that retail sales for February had declined by 0.6 percent, the Associated Press declared that a “plunge.”

Yet, when the Gross Domestic Product grows by a similar amount, the AP reports it as “feeble” (emphasis added, h/t NB reader Matthew Noll):

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that gross domestic product increased at a feeble 0.6 percent annual rate in the October-to-December quarter. The reading — unchanged from a previous estimate a month ago — provided stark evidence of just how much the economy has weakened. In the prior quarter, the economy clocked in at a sizzling 4.9 percent growth rate.

 

Questions

What type of bias is the excerpt below an example of?


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

The excerpt is an example of bias by SPIN – by using the adjectives they did, the reporters influence readers to feel that the economy is doing badly. Without using the adjectives, readers would have a very different impression of the reported data. In a news report, the reporter’s job is not to evaluate information, but to present the facts without attempting to influence the way the reader feels about it.