Many of the posts here have suggested that a certain unnamed newspaper in a big city near Ann Arbor has a media bias. If you want to learn more about the topic of media bias—how to investigate it and what to do about it---you might want to start by checking out the interesting summary and references on the topic of media bias in the link below. In fact, it raises some interesting questions if anyone wants to investigate the investigators—ie the unnamed newspaper which makes money trying to expose the frail underbelly of defenseless adolescents and their schools.
First, to determine whether or not there is a hidden agenda of writers or editors, look at their personal and business contacts, sociodemographics, attitudes, past professional connections, payments to speak or write (eg Do they ever get gigs through the influence of people with an axe to grind or those who would directly benefit from harm to a particular school’s program?). Also, look at quotes that reveal their beliefs, the frequencies of positive or negative word use or topic or headline choice for one school vs. another. Look at the paper's selective use or exclusion of experts, spokespersons, sources (eg interviewing a police officer for a player in a unfavored school but the father of a student in a more favored competitor).
Second, to determine if the larger organization fosters a bias, ask: What are the business interests of the paper (eg advertisers)? Could they be motivating a bias? Are any of the advertisers actually boosters at competing schools? Also, how about the paper’s ownership? (Hypothetically, for instance, if you were to look at two randomly chosen papers, like the Freep and the now defunct AnnArbor News, you would find they're owned by a mega-corporation called Newhouse News).
Why is that relevant? Maybe I'm naive but I can't really disprove the academic quote from the link below. It says “reporters and especially editors share and/or acquire values with corporate elites in order to further their careers. Those that don’t are usually weeded out or marginalized.” If so, one might conclude that one of the largest media groups in the country, with outlets all over the nation, like Newhouse, could have enough clout to--not necessarily even get you on TV, get you cited in national sources, or get you a news job in the future—but in fact, decide whether or not your paper folds (and I don’t mean putting a crease in your newspaper).
What to do about media bias
First, publicly disclose affiliations “when a news organization is reporting a story with some relevancy to the news organization itself or to its ownership individuals or conglomerate.” Do a paper’s sponsors have interests that conflict with sponsors of the school they attack? “Often this disclosure is mandated by the laws or regulations pertaining to stocks and securities”
Also, publicly disclose which owners of media outlets have vested interests in other commercial enterprises or organizations…Note whether any of them are boosters of athletic departments at competing schools....Do they have commercial ties to university officials or members of the Board of Directors at these schools?
If justified, demand the resignation or reassignment of biased reporters and or editors….possibly petitions or letters from prominent journalists, organizations etc…even referrals to the attorney general in the unlikely event that there are possible violations related to stocks or securities.
Finally (and probably the most effective measure), put pressure on the paper’s financial ties. I know, it may seem overwhelming if you are up against a large publication or even a mega-corporation. However the link notes: There is “a long history of advertisers pulling out support when media content becomes too controversial.”
Of course, I am not suggesting any of these actions…or even asserting that a media bias does exist at all, let alone in the state of Michigan…Horrors, no....But, I can’t help thinking about its hypothetical relevance to UM.
Doesn’t UM have the largest alumni base in the country? If they were (hypothetically) the victim of biased coverage, how long would they keep being fed what any clearly hostile media sources are serving?
In fact, doesn’t UM now even have a politically savvy, well-connected AD with commercial ties all over the world due to his past role as a CEO of a major corporation?
What would happen then if the new AD were to learn about the presence and sources of bias, if the advertiser’s associations with biased media started gaining publicity, even starting on widely read blogs like this?
If I were an advertiser for such as source, making a lot of dough by indirectly paying hacks to trash a school,.....well,
I’d thank my lucky stars if the alums, AD, and other prominent people couldn’t get mad enough to stand up and fight back....
Privately, though, I’d be shaking in my hypothetical boots.