Opinion

News reflects public’s bias

Every morning, when I pick up one of the locally available papers, be it The New York Times, The Miami Herald or the Sun-Sentinel – I hunt for international headlines. And, most of the time, what I see is more news about the Middle East, Afghanistan, or Fidel’s kingdom to the south.
I’m sorry to say, but that’s the way things are, and most probably, the way they should be. Simply because those are the places of political and economic interest to the United States. Yes, we do live each day in a more globalized world, one in which each region and sometimes even each country has its own place in the global scheme. Yes, national legislation-here and abroad-has rippling effects beyond national borders. But we still can’t expect Finland, Nepal and Trinidad and Tobago to be as important to the United States as are the Middle East, China, and Colombia. These places are, quite simply, of higher political and economic interest to the United States, not to mention cultural.
One could blame the media. Not that the media is powerless in this country (much on the contrary), but it’s unrealistic, I believe, to hold the media above influence, above anyone or anything. U.S. foreign policy has much to do with what countries are covered and how they are covered.
And let’s not forget that the news media depends on public bias to survive. The readers are who dictate much of the content that is published. Most people don’t care what happens beyond their state borders, much less about what happens outside their national border. Unless, of course, they have family, cultural or economic ties to other countries. It’s part of human nature to be selective. As long as they depend on profits, the media will do whatever they can to sell more. Even if it means neglecting some of their readers.
While the atrocities in Chechnya, the plight of the poor in Morocco, and the AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa may generate as many interesting stories as do Afghanistan, Colombia, and Israeli-Palestinian conflict, these countries don’t seem to be nearly as important to the United States.
This is the reality. But that doesn’t mean the lives of those in other countries are more precious than others. But, to some degree, it does make one life more important than another. And it becomes imperative to understand the difference between those two: Interest in one region doesn’t mean exclude not caring about another. The degrees of interest are what vary.
In the end, we’re just naturally wired to be selective, and the media simply reflect that bias in their coverage. It is up to the readers, then, to define (or re-define) their interests, so that the media can do the same with theirs.

Daniel Paskin is a doctoral student in the School of International Studies.

February 1, 2002

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

They were way below the radar coming into the 1983 season. And after their 28-3 opening-game loss to ...

In the opening eight minutes on Saturday — and the final seven minutes — FIU looked like a team that ...

The N’Kosi Perry era is here. Whether it’s here to stay is yet to be seen. The fans got what they wa ...

Ten takeaways from UM’s 31-17 win against FIU on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium: ▪ Credit Mark Richt ...

As the Miami Hurricanes started their third series against the FIU Panthers on Saturday afternoon, t ...

Get Out The Vote, a nonpartisan initiative headed by the Division of Student Affairs and the Butler ...

University of Miami Libraries commemorates Banned Books Week with a special event and display. ...

A year after UPup’s founding father met his match, the service club is realizing its goal of becomin ...

UM students, faculty and staff commemorated the five-year anniversary of the Donna E. Shalala Studen ...

Miami’s Turnover Chain inspires copycats, but the U’s turnover prop has a ‘cool factor.’ ...

N'Kosi Perry and a dominant Miami defense led the Hurricanes to a 31-17 victory over the Panthe ...

Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team is headed to the championship one of th ...

The Miami women's tennis team posted a 5-2 mark in official matches on the second day of the Mi ...

Freshman Riley Howard continued her incredible start as a Canes cross country runner setting another ...

The University of Miami soccer team is set to host Virginia Tech Sunday at noon at Cobb Stadium. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.