We can probably measure media bias. But do we want to? – Jan. 9, 2018 Columbia Journalism Review caught my attention

A Jan. 9, 2018 Columbia Journalism Review article is entitled: “We can probably measure media bias. But do we want to? – Jan. 9, 2018 Columbia Journalism Review.”

An excerpt which caught my eye reads:

The armchair academics

Amateur attempts at such tools already exist, and have found plenty of fans. Google “media bias,” and you’ll find Media Bias/Fact Check, run by armchair media analyst Dave Van Zandt. The site’s methodology is simple: Van Zandt and his team rate each outlet from 0 to 10 on the categories of biased wording and headlines, factuality and sourcing, story choices (“does the source report news from both sides”), and political affiliation.

A similar effort is “The Media Bias Chart,” or simply, “The Chart.” Created by Colorado patent attorney Vanessa Otero, the chart has gone through several methodological iterations, but currently is based on her evaluation of outlets’ stories on dimensions of veracity, fairness, and expression.

Both efforts suffer from the very problem they’re trying to address: Their subjective assessments leave room for human biases, or even simple inconsistencies, to creep in. Compared to Gentzkow and Shapiro, the five to 20 stories typically judged on these sites represent but a drop of mainstream news outlets’ production.

Whose stories are being told and who is doing the telling?

A second excerpt reads:

“One legitimate concern that people who criticize the bias in the news right now have is…the fact that, increasingly, journalists are not living in [the] communities [they cover] and are from a somewhat separate strata of society,” Groeling says.

Whether journalists truly capture the feelings and lived experience of their readers, and whether they paint the spectrum of our country’s opinions, cultures, and belief systems – that’s a question altogether more difficult to answer.

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