Free Critical Thinking About Political News Coverage
The news media plays a large and important role in American politics. They have the ability to frame and shape the issues that the public becomes aware of. Because of this, it is important to study the media, in relation to politics to grasp why certain issues are highlighted over others. It also speaks to the importance of deciphering media bias, and objectively examine all sources of news. The following news articles and topics speak to the differing perspectives and opinions the media takes on many important issues of the day.
On February 10, 2015 three Muslim American students were shot and killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this week. As a result of the ongoing debate and tensions between many Americans and the Muslim community, this has become a major national story. Even more controversial, the killer was a professed atheist. Therefore, this story focuses on two largely unpopular groups currently in American culture: Muslims and Atheists. The news media has to portray stories from multiple angles, in order to keep the public interested, and this occurs with the Chapel Hill murders. There is the general overview of what occurred, and then multiple articles interpreting and discussing further perspectives and opinions regarding what happened.
The article written by the News and Observer, a local Raleigh newspaper, covers the general details of what happened, and focused on the feelings and reactions of those closest to the situation. This obviously makes sense for a local paper to be writing about a triple murder. Those living in Raleigh would have a great deal of interest in this story, even if it did not feature Muslim-Americans being killed. While the story does not directly impact everyone in the nation, it had a tremendous impact in Raleigh, and is worthy of national attention due to the circumstances and people involved. The article is titled, “FBI launches new investigation into Chapel Hill killings, as thousands mourn in Raleigh,” showing a neutral and objective perspective. The Raleigh paper would be interested in finding closure for the families directly involved, as well as reporting the funeral and mourning ceremonies. The murder happened directly after a parking dispute, which leaves a lot of unanswered questions as to how a murder could occur because of a parking. The article features testimonies of many of the witnesses at the prayer vigil and portrays the shock and hurt suffered by the community (Stancill 2015). Overall, this is a very good article that captures the correct feelings and sentiments toward a terrible tragedy occurring the Chapel Hill community.
While the News and Observer article provides a general overview, the media also tends to examine the issue from other perspectives. This occurs in a Washington Post article describing the killer and trying to explain why he would do something like this. The media usually writes about the killer in national murder cases, as it draws in readers. While it will not make a huge impact on anyone’s life around the country, it is interesting, and will affect those directly involved with the triple murder. The article is titled, “Suspect in Chapel Hill killings described as troublemaker, obsessed with parking,” which shows the papers initial conclusions behind the motives of the killer. The paper documents many accounts of people describing how troubled as hostile the killer was. Currently, the FBI is investigating the racial motives behind the murder, and this article helps to shed light on these motives (Kaplan 2015). This article is well researched and shows many different views on why the murder could have taken place.
Finally, major stories in the media are often shown in context of a larger issue or story. An article written by Aljazeera describes the hypocrisy in the news media regarding the shooting in North Carolina. This article is news worthy because it tries to present a double standard and hypocrisy. The claim is that the American media presents the killer as one crazy person who did a bad thing. However, if the killer would have been a Muslim, the reactions would have been a complete condemnation of Islam. This article shows that Americans should care more about how issues are framed and think more deeply about American-Islam relations, especially in the Muslim world (Elmasry 2015). Therefore, these three articles all provide a unique perspective on one important issue that currently impacted many living in North Carolina. It was covered in virtually every way possible, as objective, biased, and sensationalist interpretations were presented.
The media is well equipped to cover major tragedies surrounding public opinion, and rightfully so. However, they also do an excellent job providing future speculation, especially about the next political election cycle. In this case, there is a wide open presidency, less than two years away. As a result, there are many speculative articles about the race. In an article entitled “Progressive: Between Hillary and a Hard Place,” written in a blog on the Daily Beast, it goes through the dilemma of progressives in the upcoming election. They will likely not be satisfied with Hillary, as she is too centrist. The article describes how progressives are trying to get Elizabeth Warren to run, and speculates on the chances she does this. This is really not a newsworthy event, because it is just speculation. Nothing has happened yet. While the potential impact of who runs in the Democratic race does have direct impact on most Americans, speculative articles have very little immediate impact on anyone’s life. This article is more a call to action for progressives to try and get their voice heard. Despite the speculative nature, the article is well researched and balanced in its presentation of the dilemma progressive’s face (Freelander, 2015).
An article describing the effects of climate change and drought is news that impacts everyone, but also provides pieces of speculation. Written in the Huffington Post, this scientific article describes how “mega-droughts” are expected to plague the south and Midwest in the future. While this article does have some scientific speculation, it is written in the context of global warming and climate change. This is a prevalent issues that needs to be addressed. Americans should be made aware of future changes in the climate so the best possible response strategy can be found. As droughts have tremendous economic impact, this article should not be ignored. It successfully states why Americans should be concerned with the changing climate (Borenstein 2015).
Coverage of tragedies and future speculation happen frequently within the American media. However, occasionally articles are written about topics with real impact to many people, and show a unique new outlook on controversial issues. In an article written on Democracy Now, an interview with Juan Gonzalez is documented, describing the flaws in how America in handling the drug war. The article shows how both the common liberal and conservative viewpoints on the issues are flawed, and provides an alternative position, supported by facts, which would better help those addicted to drugs. This article was written in light of Obama’s call for $27.6 billion in federal drug control programs, and it article makes a case why these resources are not being used properly. This is good investigative journalism, making a case why Americans should more about how people caught in a life of drugs are treated (Hari 2015). This is a good example of the media framing an issue in hope that people will respond differently to a situation that has caused much harm to many Americans. This is why the media is still needed to promote new ideas and discussions, as well as help generate solutions to hard problems.
Borenstein, Seth. "U.S. 'Megadroughts' Are Likely Later This Century, Study Finds." The Huffington Post, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/13/us-megadroughts-study_n_6671812.html>.
Elmasry, Mohammed. "Chapel Hill Shooting and Western Media Bigotry." Al Jazeera, 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/02/chapel-hill-shooting-western-media-bigotry-150211083909613.html>.
Freedlander, David. "Progressives: Between Hillary and a Hard Place." The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 13 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/13/progressives-between-hillary-and-a-hard-place.html>.
Hari, Johann. "Everything We Know About the Drug War & Addiction Is Wrong." Democracy Now!, 4 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.democracynow.org/2015/2/4/johann_hari_everything_we_know_about>.
Kaplan, Sarah. "Suspect in Chapel Hill Killings Described as Troublemaker, Obsessed with Parking." The Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/02/12/alleged-chapel-hill-killer-described-as-neighborhood-bully-obsessed-with-parking-and-noise/>.
Stancill, James. "FBI Launches New Investigation into Chapel Hill Killings, as Thousands Mourn in Raleigh." News & Observer, Raleigh, 13 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fbi-launches-new-investigation-into-chapel-hill-killings-as-thousands-mourn-in-raleigh/ar-AA9jxan>.
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