When Words Matter

The words we use matter intensely.  Sometimes they tell others a lot about who we are.  Sometimes when we use the wrong words we hurt people we hadn’t intended to.  And sometimes we don’t have any idea what the actual words are. Here are a trio of recent stories about when words really matter:

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Why Media Bias is Complicated

If you want to ever get involved in a no-win scenario argument about the media, start talking about media bias.  Critics on both the right and the left maintain that there is either a liberal or a conservative bias in the media’s coverage of the news. Journalist and author Richard Reeves notes that for each example of a bias in one direction, there is an example of bias in the opposite direction. Conservatives point out that there are disproportionate numbers of liberals working as reporters. Liberals argue that large corporations own the media and that they slant the news in favor of industry and business.

And you know what? They’re both (to a degree) correct.

And we can see this playing out during the 2014 election that’s going to a vote next week.

As reported on the ever excellent media criticism site JimRomenesko.com:

The owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com tells readers that his media outlets won’t be making a governor’s race endorsement this year. What Gerry Lenfest fails to disclose is that he gave $250,000 to Gov. Tom Corbett’s campaign. One of his journalists writes in an email: “Given Lenfest’s history of Corbett donations and the likelihood that the Inquirer’s … left-leaning editorial board (and certainly the Daily News’) would have endorsed [challenger Tom] Wolf, it looks really, really bad.” 

This is absolutely a perfect example of this.  You have a newspapers with editorial boards that lean left, and an owner who leans right.  The owner likely anticipates an endorsement from his papers he would disagree with, so he decides his papers won’t endorse anyone.

When you go to look at the papers, you don’t see the conservative candidate being endorsed, so a reader might assume that there is no conservative bias at play, but in fact it is the owner’s conservatism that may be keeping the paper from endorsing the more liberal candidate.

So, does this mean there is a huge conservative bias to the news? 

Not really.

What it means is that there are multiple forces working to shape how news and opinion are presented through our media that defy a simple attack of liberal/conservative bias.

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Worst automated story promo placement ever?

So, this probably wasn’t the story promo you were hoping to pair with the Nebraska senior pictures story…

Promo with gun portrait story

 

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Link Ch. 15 – Dangers of reporting from Syria

With the war raging in Syria, it’s a very dangerous place for reporters trying to cover the fighting.  Here are several articles on the subject:

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Link Ch. 13 – PATRIOT Act Readings

Here’s a bit more depth on a couple of PATRIOT Act implications:

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Link Ch. 13 – Who Owns Your Social Media Content?

You might be surprised if you haven’t read your endless Terms of Service (TOS).

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Link Ch. 13 – Libel, Privacy & Social Media

Several readings on (you guessed it!) libel, privacy and social media:

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Link Ch. 12 – Velveeta and the Cheesepocalypse

The news broke the first week of January 2014. Football fans in the heat of the NFL playoffs were facing potential disaster. It wasn’t a potential strike of NFL players or a lockout by management. And it wasn’t a dispute between a cable company and the network broadcasting the big game, threatening a blackout of the Super Bowl over a major urban area. No, this was something really serious, the Cheesepocalypse—a shortage of Velveeta with which to make queso dip for Super Bowl and playoff watch parties.

It started when Advertising Age magazine contacted Kraft Foods after news reports surfaced of shortages at East Coast grocery stores. Kraft spokeswoman Jody Moore told Ad Age, “Given the incredible popularity of Velveeta this time of year, it is possible consumers may not be able to find their favorite product on store shelves over the next couple of weeks.”

Kraft took a humorus response to this mild shortage, declaring that America was in the midst of a “cheesepocalypse.”  Here are several links that deal with the cheesepocalypse:

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Link Ch. 11 – Native Ads

Here are some of the native ads we’ve discussed in Mass Communication: Living in a  Media World.

Southwest Airlines Rolls Out New ‘Loyalty Goes Both Ways’ Campaign

The Atlantic’s Scientology Native Ad

Atlantic's Scientology Native Ad

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Porn and New Technology

“I was disappointed that pornography got to the Net. But I’ve come to learn that pornographers are almost always the first ones to adopt new technology. If there is a new way of distributing their product, they’ll find it.”

-Vint Cerf, one of the Internet’s creators

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