Can Somebody Say Amen?
From Haiman’s Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists:
“Still, there was persuasive evidence that some newspapers have problems in
keeping opinion on the editorial page and out of news stories” (Haiman 50).
YES! This is so true, especially of the newspapers in the Pittsburgh area, it is sad. Our class has already explored the Republican bias of the Tribune Review, now it’s time to take a look at the Post-Gazette. I was feverishly lying in my bed Sunday morning when I heard a ruckus coming from my parents’ room. (Get your minds out of the gutter, not that kind of ruckus.) My parents were reading the Post-Gazette in bed. I heard my mom read out loud, “Republicans -claiming the bill’s tax increases would harm the middle class - reform medical malpractice lawsuits and break down state barriers to insurance sales” (A-5). Then my Republican mom and Democrat dad began to bicker over the article. Even in my semi-conscious and brain-fried state I heard the judgment word “claiming.” The word “claim” implies that what was said could be true but it isn’t likely. According to Merriam-Webster, claim means “to assert in the face of possible contradiction,” which, of course, adds a completely different level of meaning to the sentence. To just “say” asserts that this is their stance, leaving the judging up to the reader. To “claim” leads the reader a conclusion that the Republicans can be (and probably are) wrong. Also, this statement is a generalization. It’s a broad statement including all Republicans without putting a real face on it. This would have been better if it was a quote. It would sound a little less biased then.
Apparently this problem isn’t just a Pittsburgh thing. Haiman said, “Thirty percent said bias was not being open-minded about facts, 29% said it was having an agenda and shaping news to fit it, and 29% said it was showing favoritism to particular social or political groups” (51). Journalists really need to watch these kinds of problems if they really want to be taken seriously. It is called the “NEWSpaper” if people wanted to read semi-true or completely biased judgments they would read something called the “OPINIONpaper.”