The Drudge Report and Fox News are famous for their partisan slant in news coverage while maintaining the façade of honest news coverage. This is done most insidiously not by printing biased news articles, but in the choices the media makes in which stores to cover.
It’s called Agenda Setting.
A great example is found in Sunday’s Dispatch.com. The editors of the Dispatch hold the ability to drive the Ohio political conversation with what they chooses to highlight in their paper and – more importantly – on their webpage.
So how are our friends at the Dispatch covering Ohio politics this weekend? Here is a screen grab of the lead politics stories on Dispatch.com last Sunday morning:
Notice anything about the headlines? If this is a snapshot of the political news on the day Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term (officially), here is what America looks like:
- Democrats are “divided” and abortion rights are losing public support.
- A town is thinking of taxing students.
- Guns may be controversial, but a rally in favor of gun rights draws “hundreds.”
- Immigrants are coming to America just to have “anchor babies”
If you read the Dispatch, the most important issues facing Ohio are abortion rights, guns, taxes, and immigration? Yes, we care about these issues, and they receive lots of coverage on Plunderbund, but . . . geesh. That sounds more like a 2012 Republican Presidential debate than the real issues facing Ohio in 2013.
There is no mention of the biggest issues facing Ohio: manufacturing jobs, income inequality, global warming, transparency and corruption in government, and the environmental risk posed by fracking.
Marge Simpson once famously said, “You know, Fox turned into a hard-core pornography channel so slowly, I barely even noticed.” One of the things we will be watching in the run-up to the 2016 elections here in Ohio is how the legacy media will use editorial choices to shape perceptions and set the agenda. Will we wake up after the 2016 election and wonder how it happened that the Dispatch has more in common with Drudge than a real newspaper?
The comments are open. What issues would YOU like to see the media cover in the next two years.