Thursday, October 20, 2016

Yes and No

The issue crops up every four years, but it's been kicked up a notch this year.  Media bias.

Is the media biased?  No doubt.

ABC, CBS, and NBC seem to play it down the middle.  MSNBC and CNN lean left.  FOX News Channel goes right.  I should point out that most of the daytime reporting is solid.  The directions change during the prime time interview and opinion shows.  That's OK.  You know where Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews fall.  The same goes for Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.

Now that we've established that, let's talk about personal experience.  This is my tenth presidential election.  No one at any radio or tv station where I have ever worked has suggested I slant my reporting.

There are some stories I should pass along.

I got my start at WARM.  During my stay, it was owned by a very conservative family based in York, PA.  Before the 1988 election, upper management had placed a memo on the bulletin board (this was long before email), telling its employees how important it was that the country remain in Republican hands.  There were no threats.  Management simply told us why it felt we should vote for George H.W. Bush.  They didn't poke their nose in to the news department.  After the Bush victory, we each received a commemorative plate.  The people who owned the radio station also controlled Pfaltzgraff.  It was a really nice plate, and I'm sure I still have it somewhere.

When I moved in to television, our general manager, just before every election, told us what candidates spent the most money.  It was a playful suggestion that those candidates should be rewarded with our votes.  After all, political dollars kept the lights on.  It was a joke more than anything else.  I voted with my heart and head, and who spent the most money with the station really didn't matter much to me.  Again, there was never a suggestion or threat that the big spenders receive more and favorable coverage.

During my stay at WNEP, we've been under three owners, and I've worked for three general managers.  Five news directors.  One interim news director.  Four executive producers.  Countless producers.  All have bent over backwards to make sure our reporting is fair and accurate.

My advice to you is to stick to WNEP for local news, but read several newspapers, watch a bunch of different networks, and visit varied web sites.  Expose yourself to all points of view, whether or not you agree.  Recognize bias when you see it.  Think.  Form your own opinions.

Above all, VOTE!