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Media Bias and Language Lesson 2 Unit 4 Language in Society.

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1 Media Bias and Language Lesson 2 Unit 4 Language in Society

2 What is bias? Bias is an inclination to think, act, or react in a particular manner based on a viewpoint, ideology, opinion, or understanding. Bias surrounds us, and no one is without bias. Bias is often seen as negative and something to avoid. This is impossible, as no situation can be truly objective. Bias is not inherently bad or good; interpretations of bias are clues to other forms of bias. Media bias refers to the bias of journalists and news producers within mass media. Can affect selection of which events and stories are reported and how.

3 8 Types of Print Media Bias 1. Bias through placement. 2. Bias by headline. 3. Bias by photos, captions, and camera angles. 4. Bias through the use of names and titles. 5. Bias through statistics and crowd counts. 6. Bias by source control. 7. Word choice and tone. 8. Bias through selection and omission.

4 1. Bias through placement The importance attached to the story by where in the newspaper it is placed. Can be applied to internet news sources also. Is it at the top of the page? Is it on the front page? Do you have to go to sub-pages to find the information?

5 1. Bias through placement


7 2. Bias by headline The message conveyed about the story by the words chosen for the headline. Example Headlines from November 2008 after Proposition 8 passed: Same-sex marriage backers hit Capitol, churches Anti-gay marriage group steps up for Prop. 8

8 3. Bias by photos, captions, and camera angles The emotive nature of the image used to illustrate the story.

9 4. Bias through the use of names and titles How an individual, group or organization is designated and the labels used to describe them. From Thousands in S.F. march to protest Prop. 8 (Nov. 8, 2008) Our rights have been taken away, said Debra Walker, a lesbian who has lived in San Francisco since 1981. Ryan Kerian, 28, a gay lawyer and San Francisco resident, said the rally was designed to show that we wont be silent. Uriah Findley, 27, who is straight and was born and raised in conservative Orange County, said he believes that Prop. 8 will be a fleeting event in California history.

10 5. Bias through statistics and crowd counts Incomplete, inaccurate or selective use of statistics. Words chosen to describe crowd size. While a Field Poll last month showed only 38 percent of likely voters backing Proposition 8, with 55 percent opposed, those figures may not reflect how Californians feel about same-sex marriage. While Obama publicly backed the No on Prop. 8 effort, African American voters had no trouble voting overwhelmingly for the man who will be the nations first black president and then voting 70 percent in favor of Prop. 8, exit polls showed.

11 6. Bias by source control Sources of information and the status of those sources. List of all sources from article: Same-sex marriage: states great divide Bill Doughty, a volunteer organizer for the Yes on 8 campaign Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll Frank Schubert, campaign consultant for the Yes on 8 campaign Stephanie Stolte of Turlock, an organizer for a Unitarian Universalist group that is part of the No on 8 coalition Martina Virrey, a Stockton organizer with the No on Prop. 8 effort Myrna Elias, a 29-year-old student from Stockton (quoted about Yes on 8) Rebecca Whitman, a Stockton mother of five (quoted about Yes on 8) Ken Boyd, a volunteer organizer for the Yes on 8 campaign rom Kerman (Fresno County) Ron Heinzen, an engineer from Stockton, is a Prop. 8 supporter who has put in his time on the streets.

12 7. Word choice and tone Use of positive or negative words to describe a person or situation. From article Prop. 8 foes concede defeat, vow to fight on …attorneys for several gay rights groups have challenged the Prop. 8 victory, Supporters of Prop. 8 suggested that the opponents were little more than sore losers making a desperate attempt to overturn their loss on election day. [Geoff] Kors [executive director of Equality California] and other opponents of the measure also complained about what they considered to be false statements and questionable tactics by the Prop. 8 campaign… Prop. 8 supporters won a surprisingly widespread victory Tuesday,

13 8. Bias through selection and omission What stories, events or perspectives are included or not included. What the media includes, highlights, or doesn't include influences how we interpret what is being reported. How can selection and omission be seen in relation to some of the other points we have seen?

14 8. Bias through selection and omission Selection and omission can pertain on a wider level, such as regarding topics, headlines, who is quoted, etc. (As seen in #1-7) However, it is often commonly done even with a single sentence: Example: – The FBI arrested a man on suspicion of murder. – A man was arrested by the FBI on suspicion of murder. – A man was arrested on suspicion of murder. – A man was arrested. – An arrest was made.

15 8. Bias through selection and omission From article Newsom was central to same-sex marriage saga Newsoms rash decision four years ago… fueled what arguably is the next civil rights movement. Newsom kicked it off with an act of civil disobedience. Newsom has been blamed for a variety of shortcomings related to same-sex marriage. When he refused to listen, he was eventually blamed for the partys failing to win the presidency. In many respects, Newsom has taken the blame all over again, this time for the loss of same-sex marriage.

16 Agency Agency refers to who is doing the action of a verb in a given sentence. In English, the agent is the DOER of the verb in the sentence. EX: Colorful parrots fly through the rainforest. EX: The rabbit was chased by the fox. Two related concepts are often used together in sentences to determine how information is presented, and how we as readers perceive it: Agency and Voice.

17 Voice In English, we have two major types of voice in a sentence: active voice, and passive voice. In active voice sentences, the agent is the subject of the sentence. Subjects come before the verb in English. In passive voice sentences, the agent is NOT the subject of the sentence. The agent (DOER of the verb) can be moved after the verb, or even removed completely.

18 Active Voice Examples: Cows eat grass. cows is the subject, and the agent. (The eating is being performed by the cows) Jaimes cousin was buying a brand new camera this morning. Jaimes cousin is the subject, and the agent. (The buying was performed by Jaimes cousin) The interviewer offered her a job yesterday. The interviewer is the subject, and the agent. (The offer was performed by the interviewer)

19 Passive Voice Examples: Grass is eaten by cows. grass is the subject, but NOT the agent. (The grass is not performing the eating) A new camera was bought this morning by Jaimes cousin. a new camera is the subject, but NOT the agent. (A new camera is not performing the buying) She was offered a job yesterday. she is the subject, but NOT the agent. (She is not performing the offering)

20 Why use passive? Why are passive constructions used? – The agent is unknown, unwanted, unneeded, or unimportant. – The author wishes to emphasize the action or recipient rather than the agent. Who uses them? – Media Four suspects were arrested yesterday – Sciences The bacteria were found to be very resilient – Academic Writing The subjects were seen to respond well to...(FINISH) – Politicians Mistakes were made

21 Now Try It! 1.My mother baked a cake for dessert. 2.The children were dropped off by their parents. 3.Marilyn mailed her sister a letter. 4.The bear was shot three times in the chest.

22 Manipulating Agency and Voice What happens when we change the voice or change the agency? – Bulls trampled on hundreds of spectators in Pamplona. – Hundreds of spectators were trampled on by bulls in Pamplona. – Hundreds of spectators were trampled on. Does the meaning change when it is active or passive? What about if there is or isn't an agent mentioned? Does the way you think about the sentence change? How?

23 Data Analysis: Agency and Voice Get into small groups (about 3 students each) Each group will be looking at 3 sentences in the data handout. Have one person from the group read your section out loud. Decide for each highlighted sentence: – If it is Active or Passive – What/who the agent is (if present) – What the sentence would be like in a different voice. – How your understanding of the sentence differs from one voice to another. If there are things missing, or if a sentence doesn't sound right, why do you think that is?

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