I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
ABQ Journal tries to hide its news bias
Editorializing in the news pages, I mean.
Journal editors do this by choosing which national stories to publish and writing tendentious headlines.
Please don’t take me on faith. Check my analysis below against what you read and draw your own conclusions.
About, for example, the Journal’s recent coverage of health care reform.
“Dems Frustrated With Health Negotiations” was the headline on its story, from the Associated Press Washington Bureau, Tuesday, June 23, page A6.
The lead said Democrats “are becoming bolder” about pushing a government option. And, “Their fervor carries a risk.”
That the headline ignores the lead is beside my point, which lies six paragraphs down — explaining the “boldness”:
Two recent news media polls have found public support for a government plan, if many people are unsure about its implications.
The reporter cites one such poll, a New York Times-CBS survey wherein 72 percent supported a public option, including about 50 percent of the Republicans queried.
Got that? Fine. Next day the Journal published a story on polls from the Washington Post (page A4) headlined: “Americans Want, Fear Reform”.
Refreshingly, that head actually reflects the lead paragraph.
But a glance at the original Post story reveals that the Journal excised two-thirds of it. Left out? Context, complexity, nuance. Retained? Poll numbers demonstrating the public’s “fear.”
Here’s some of what you didn’t read in the Journal:
“58 percent [in a Post-ABC poll] said they see government reform as necessary to stall skyrocketing costs and expand coverage for the uninsured, while 39 percent said they fear any federal action would do more harm than good.”
Some material excised by the Journal did appear on the same page in a lengthy AP Washington Bureau “Analysis.” (See my Sept. 5, 2008 report on the peculiar journalism practiced there.) This AP product was a doozy!
It was headlined “Obama Rips Health Insurance Industry.” Rips? That’s strong. Still, I won’t quibble because reporter Charles Babington made it very clear Mr. Obama shocked him.
Here are his first two paragraphs:
Even for a Democratic president, Barack Obama’s challenge to health insurance companies and free market principles Tuesday was unusually pointed.
A government-run health insurance option is needed “to discipline insurance companies,” he said, part of his rallying cry for comprehensive health care overhaul. If they can’t compete, it’s probably their fault. Many private insurers, he said, spend too much time thinking about profits instead of helping people.
Later, Babington perpetrated this:
He practically taunted those who denigrate government bureaucrats and exalt the free market.
Learning more about reporter Babington than health reform? Wondering if he counts himself among the “taunted?”
For a conventional journalistic account, see the N.Y. Times story (“Obama Says Government Health Coverage Plan Would Not Hurt Private Insurance”, June 24.)
This isn’t exceptional — the Albuquerque Journal routinely shapes national news to fit its editorial stance. On a range of issues, too. I could write a book thereon.
Bias exists, of course. The sin is in the cloaking.
We should distinguish it, too, from incompetence, carelessness, gremlins – whatever happened when a Journal wire story (June 23, page three) said actor Matthew McConaughey and his “girlfriend” are expecting another baby and the headline read: “McConaughey, Wife Expecting Again.”
An editor who clothes sinners in solemn vows may be forgiven. Not so a newspaper using news columns to advance a political agenda.
Postscript: the Journal ran a health care story, from McClatchy Newspapers, Thursday, June 25, page A3 — fairly reported, appropriately headlined.
Somebody slip up?