Now's The Time To Accept That Media Blackouts Happen Every Day
Submitted by: lalapancakes⚫ 9 months ago
The media blackout is a tool networks and publications use for various ethically debatable reasons. They’ve been employed in a lot of foreign countries experiencing unrest, they’ve been used to hide the numbers of kidnapped journalists, and they get used during the 2016 American presidential campaign.
I took a look at two stories related to media blackouts. One from the Columbia Journalism Review covering the media black out centering on hiding the fate of unfortunate journalists and the other, a data dig on the actual media behavior statistics for this year’s political campaign. In both stories there is clear evidence and even open admittance of media blackouts.
“Under a practice known as a ‘media blackout,’ news organizations have routinely suppressed information about the widespread abductions of journalists and others that have taken place in Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, and other countries around the world. The number of journalists kidnapped each year varies greatly from conflict to conflict, but there has never been anything like Syria. More than 80 journalists have been kidnapped since the conflict erupted in 2011.”
Why would anyone want to hide the kidnapping of a journalist?
“Initially, I supported the use of media blackouts in selective cases. But more recently I have come to doubt that it is an effective strategy. The rationale behind blackouts is that they can save lives by facilitating hostage negotiations. But I have seen scant evidence to support this. Meanwhile, because the news is suppressed and sometimes never released, blackouts themselves stifle the public debate and undermine the media’s own credibility.”
The other story relates to what’s going on in the news coverage of presidential candidates. Everyone whose been complaining their candidate is clearly not getting the equal attention they deserve is quite right. Decision Data put together data charts showing how biased the media really is in election coverage through a series of data from Archive.org, Google Trends, and Real Clear Politics polls. The verdict is out, “Holy crap. When I first had this idea I thought I might kill some conspiracy theories about the media. What we found is strong evidence of media bias.
• Our analysis shows Bernie Sanders is being ignored by the mainstream media to a shocking degree. If covered at the average rate we’d have seen about 61,500 more stories including Sanders in the last 6 months: 91,094 mentions instead of 29,525.
• Clinton receives a high amount of coverage, despite no dramatic changes in polls and lower search interest.
• Candidates like Rand Paul also appear to be locked out of the mainstream press. Paul isn’t the most popular candidate, but if the average held he’d have been in twice as many stories. Rubio, despite being 36% more popular than Paul was 403% more likely to be covered by the news."
And there we have it. Media blackouts are acknowledged and statistically proven. I know I’m preaching to the choir, for the most part but the next question is how can we change the problem?
“The news isn’t there to tell you what happened. It’s there to tell you what it wants you to hear or what it thinks you want to hear.” --Joss Whedon