Monday, August 22, 2005

George Will On Gas Prices And The Media

George Will has a Newsweek column that discusses how the media covering gas prices recently. His point is quite clear and as it is unlikely that I'll be able to communicate it better than Mr. Will, I can only suggest that you read it now.

The whole article is an essay, basically, on how one can use numbers about the economy (gas prices, deficits, unemployment rates, take your pick...) and easily tell whatever story you want to tell if you take the numbers out of context. In short, it tells of how one can lie with statistics. Perhaps it is the baseball reference, but I like how the article ends:
Still, various voices warn that parts of the economy's improvement are "temporary." Well, yes—isn't everything? During a broadcast 14 years ago, Vin Scully, voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said, "Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day." (Pause) "Aren't we all?"
Seriously. What in an economy is permanent?

As I continue to blog and I continue to find reason that the media has gone of course, I also continue to wonder. The bias in the media is too pronounced to not be deliberate. But is the bias there in an effort to sell more papers or attract more viewers, or is it more malicious? Many would argue the later and at times I'm strongly attempted to agree. As a counter point, however, watch the local broadcast news wherever you may live (at least in the U.S.). Fires and car crashes get far more than their fair share of coverage. Since I refuse to believe local news is "pro fire", I have to assume that disasters equal ratings and ratings are king.

Just the other day, CNN had a story on the front page reporting a bomb in Afghanistan and the death of two U.S. soldiers. This is the first time that any news from Afghanistan has made the front page of CNN. Even Chrenkoff, who has cataloged mountains of good news from Afghanistan, hasn't done so since March 7. Is the only news worth reporting bad news? Whose fault is it that the good news goes unreported--a biased CNN or an audience who will only bother to tune in if the news is dire?

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