Notatypewriter's Blog

Umm… what?

Don’t confuse excitement for political bias

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Michael Yon, a blogger and (self-funded!) journalist that has my utmost respect for his bravery and his commitment to his mission of informing the public about war, posted this thought today.

Have seen a good number of rallies and also press covering the rallies. Noticed a unique tendency that held in every case. This is important. When rallies truly are large, the press pans back with cameras to gather the crowd. When the rallies are small or tiny, the photos are tight. Usually the tight photos focus on a tiny group that is doing something particular, like burning a flag or effigy of our latest President. Please remember this and as you see rallies, please check the press and see for yourself.

It’s quite logical for a photographer to do this. In order to justify coverage of some event and to justify the viewer’s attention, they need to create the impression that some event is a big deal.

They also want to create a sense of excitement. Empty space in a photograph likely evokes more serene emotions. (See this photo of the National Mall in DC.) Excitement leads to more clicking around or more sharing of the story, which hopefully generates more eyeballs for advertisers.

Also remember that this is what journalists got into the business to do. They want to go to these rallies to cover them. They want to feel like they’re on the cusp of some groundbreaking event. They want to feel like Dan Rather when the Berlin Wall came down. They’re naturally excited, on an emotional level and not a political level, that something is happening and they’re part of it and they’re helping to keep the rest of the world informed about it.

So I don’t ascribe a political bias to this type of coverage. It’s natural to be excited and I completely understand it. When some cool news comes out about say hard drives (like Intel’s CULV delay, omgomgomg!) , I talk to all my friends about it, even the ones who aren’t nerds. They probably get slightly annoyed and likely don’t understand its significance (or at least what I perceive to be its significance), but it’s hard to contain myself when a huge thing that has the potential to change my profession just happened. (I hope my friends in other fields do the same. It broadens my experiences and informs me about the world.)

Of course, being aware of this kind of bias is essential for a media consumer to determine the popularity or size of such events.

I guess one should also realize that nobody goes to rallies anyways. Getting the correct percentage of the public that supports something that a rally promotes is pointless anyways. People are busy and have better things to do than to spend money to fly somewhere and yell ineffectually at nobody in particular.

Written by notatypewriter

2010 April 3 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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