Just a Quick Thought On Fair and Balanced

I was reading some stories about the new AZ Immigration Law and began noticing the headlines. For Instance…


This ABC Affiliate in AZ went with “Protestors Urge Boycotts Against New AZ Immigration Law” Just the facts.  Short. Terse. Cogent. Very good.


This headline from Canada’s National Daily, The Globe and Mail said: “Toughest Illegal Immigration Bill in U.S. Now Law in Arizona” Again, reporting the facts. Some may argue leading with the word toughest implies bias, but it is also the truth.


From the New York Times is: “Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration” I feel that stringent is a less nuanced word than toughest. Maybe showing bias a bit, but walking the line of staying truthful. It is quite stringent. That’s why some love it and some abhor it.


Now we come to “Fair and Balanced” Fox News. It says so right up there in the upper left corner. “Fair & Balanced” So what did they use for the headline? “Democrats Use Arizona Immigration Law as Rallying Cry for Federal Action.” OK. Democrats are against it. That’s probably mostly true, though there may be some Blue Dogs in Congress that would agree with it. Rallying Cry implies they are the opposition. Angry. Vengeful. Often Rallying Cry is used in stories about the Tea Party. Federal Action – and there we are… implying that the big mean Fed Government is going to take this away. Playing on the big Government fears and State’s Rights folks who are their readers. I think this headline is great ad copy. It knows it’s audience and plays to it, plus they know good SEO keywords so it’ll generate web traffic. It’s a terrific headline. The problem with it is that it’s neither Fair or Balanced. It starts with a POV, and plays to an audience. It’s not wholly untrue, just slanted and twisted enough to retain a kernel of “Truthiness.” But absolutely the least “Fair & Balanced” of all the headlines I saw.

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