Networks Ignore Recall of Chevy Volts

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on January 11, 2012

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Directions

-Read the excerpt below from Julia A. Seymour's Report posted on Jan. 9 at BusinessandMedia.org.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

From a report by Julia Seymour at businessandmedia.org (original post date 1/9/12):

In November 2011 it became public knowledge that the Chevy Volt could possibly catch fire weeks after a serious accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened its investigation into the matter on Nov. 25. Now General Motors is trying to recall all of the Volts for “enhancements,” all while attempting to avoid the word recall. ABC and NBC are also avoiding the topic.

On Jan. 5 Associated Press reported that GM “will ask Volt owners to return the cars to dealers for structural modifications.” NPR reported that “GM is fixing the cars under a customer service campaign. That’s kind of like a recall, but it comes without the bad publicity or the federal scrutiny of a safety recall.”

GM certainly isn’t getting much scrutiny from the mainstream news media over the recall of the heavily subsidized autos. Two of the three broadcast networks have so far avoided sharing this story about the Volt, a gas-electric plug-in hybrid vehicle that they have hyped since January 2007.

Many network stories have touted the gas mileage of the vehicle, some even claimed the Volt could go hundreds of miles without gas. Yes, but only if you stop to charge it roughly every 35-40 miles (depending on driving conditions) since the car switches to its gasoline motor after the initial electric charge runs out. That could take four hours, according to one CBS report.

[As of Jan. 9] Neither ABC, nor NBC have mentioned GM’s decision to fix the roughly 8,000 Chevy Volts by reinforcing the area around the batteries since that news came out Jan. 5, 2012. Only CBS mentioned it on the “Evening News” that night and again on CBS “Morning News” Jan. 6, according to a Nexis search.

Questions

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

2.  Why do you think both NBC and ABC chose not to inform viewers of the “recall” on Chevy’s electric car (the Volt)?

3.  Does the media have a responsibility to report on safety hazards such as this?  Explain your answer.

(Read a December article about the Volt “GM Willing to Buy Back Volts” at: studentnewsdaily.com/daily-news-article/gm-willing-to-buy-back-volts)


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
























Answer(s)

1.  The excerpt is an example of bias by omission.

2.  Opinion question. Answers vary.

3.  Opinion question. Answers vary.