Greenwood (North Tulsa)

The Dangers of Media Bias

OPINION | Lee Ann Crosby

Managing Editor | Liz Frank

The media’s biases for one cause or another are prevalent today and have been throughout its history. Distribution methods and the technologies utilized by media vary significantly through the years, but the principle is always the same: conveying information to the public. From ancient cave drawings and oral tradition to television and the Internet, a goal of the media is to influence public opinion.

Everyone has their own ideas, beliefs, and opinions. Media-consumers choose to stand behind specific outlets and decide which information they see as “true.” As it has many times in the past, today’s media takes advantage of this reality to forward their agendas.

Watching certain cable television stations, it is easy to see their political biases. No matter your political inclinations, there is a channel available to reinforce your opinions. Conservative? Liberal? There’s a cable channel for both. But who is providing the most facts without baked-in bias?

To counterbalance the prevalent media biases, several organizations work to expose and oppose slanted reporting. One of these organizations is the New York-based group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, which was founded in 1986.

In order for the media to become well-rounded and unbiased, media-consumers must change. When we contribute to a particular network or share links from Internet organizations, we are sharing their interests and promoting their influence. Outlets’ popularity among viewers can pique the interest of other curious individuals. Consumers must ensure that decision-makers at media outlets are women, LGBT, and people of color.

These factors matter because if we do not have a diverse group of individuals controlling media outlets, then the unfiltered facts do not reach consumers and they are consistently misled.  In return, we must be vigilant of our own media here in Tulsa what listeners are the stations trying to reach out towards.

The trial for the killing of Terence Crutcher provides a recent example of media bias in Tulsa. Very few media sources reported the facts, which caused many people following the coverage to believe that Crutcher was in the wrong and that Officer Betty Shelby made the right decision by shooting him to death.

Some outlets used pro-Shelby hashtags on news segments and some anchors’ body language was exaggerated and out of line for a media outlet. One anchor made a comment implying that Shelby’s “not guilty” verdict pleased all Tulsans. Several days after the verdict was read, one KOTV morning anchor, Leanne Taylor, to the shock of her co-anchors, said, “Wow, we did it. No blood shed, everyone is happy, no one is crying.” (BWST has requested the footage of this broadcast to share with our readers.)

In reality, thousands of people who followed the case were not happy about the verdict, and were crying after it was delivered because Terence Crutcher’s blood was shed on that September day when he was shot dead by a Tulsa Police Department officer.

Should members of the media participate in implicit bias training before obtaining their positions of influence and throughout their employment? At least it would be a start.

The Black Wall Street Times analyzed the racial makeup of featured news personalities from the local, broadcast news stations in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our data is presented in the chart and slide show below.

Chart1

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