Headline Leads to False Impression

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on March 31, 2010

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Directions

-Read the excerpt below from the "Best of the Web" post by OpinionJournal.com's editor James Taranto (original post date 3/29/10).
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

As the mainstream media’s campaign against the tea-party movement* has grown more vicious, Heidi Przybyla, a reporter for the Bloomberg news service, decides to take a different approach: (relatively) gentle mockery. “Tea Party Advocates Who Scorn Socialism Want a Government Job,” reads the headline of a dispatch she filed Friday, reporting on a new Bloomberg poll.

There’s just one problem: The headline, which Przybyla herself might or might not have written, is glaringly false. Here’s what the story actually reports:

More than 90 percent of Tea Party backers interviewed in a new Bloomberg National Poll say the U.S. is verging more toward socialism than capitalism, the federal government is trying to control too many aspects of private life and more decisions should be made at the state level.

At the same time, 70 percent of those who sympathize with the Tea Party, which organized protests this week against President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, want a federal government that fosters job creation.

Is it really possible that Przybyla or her editors can’t imagine ways in which the federal government could foster job creation other than by expanding the government payroll? The headline is designed to portray tea-party sympathizers as hypocrites and losers, but to anyone paying attention, it actually shows Bloomberg to be biased to the point of dishonesty.

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*NOTE: On tax day, April 15, 2009, American taxpayers held ‘Tea Party’ rallies across the country to protest exploding government spending and the inevitable higher taxes that will be needed to pay for it.
The tea party movement is a completely grassroots movement with no specific leader or origin. What unites the protesting taxpayers is the unprecedented expansion of federal government power and spending that has taken place over the past 2 years. Starting with President Bush’s $168 billion economic stimulus, through the 2008 housing bailout, TARP I, TARP II, President Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus, the auto bailout, the health care bill, etc. Americans have grown more and more wary of the ever expanding size and scope of the federal government. The people protesting are ordinary citizens, many of whom have never participated in a protest of any kind before.

Read the original post at opinionjournal.com. (It is the first item titled “Tea and Mockery”.)

Questions

Headlines can greatly influence readers’ opinions about the news. The importance of an accurate headline is that most people don’t read every word of every article; they often just skim the headlines. Therefore, those who read just a headline are not accurately informed when the headline misrepresents the story.  Do you think that the Bloomberg news service intentionally posted a misleading headline with their article on tea party protesters?  Explain your answer.


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
























Answer(s)

Opinion question.  Answers vary.