Sunday, January 24, 2016

Media Watch: Excuse me ma'am, but your bias is showing.

In the long running back and forth between anti-toll activists and the good folks at the Lake Norman Citizen, there have been a lot of ups and downs.

Usually, it involves something like an event covered differently by the Citizen, activists pointing that out, and then the good folks over at the Citizen feigning indignation and claiming to be the only news outlet in the area that is covering this story accurately.

This has been going on since this story was posted back in January 2013 at aShortChronicle.

Recently, things have gotten a bit more personal and more obvious however.

Take this example.  Earlier this month, one prominent anti-toll activist posted on their Facebook page a comment thanking the speakers at the recent Charlotte City Council meeting for their efforts.  These speakers were called "heroes".

Somewhat oddly, staff writer Lori Helms from the Lake Norman Citizen chimed in saying that was an inappropriate use of the word "hero".  It seemed like an odd comment, but then again everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Now, to be very clear, Ms Helms did not say she was speaking on behalf of the Citizen or anything like that when she joined the conversation.  However, someone else on the thread subsequently brought up what they thought was Ms Helms's biased reporting and Ms Helms said this in response.

That would seem to be pretty clear wouldn't it?  No bias, EVER, in news stories and commentary stories are just COMMENTARY.

Right.  Ok.  Got it.

Now, fast forward to the very next week which just also happened to be the very next issue of the Citizen.

Check out this news story on the recent LKN Chamber annual awards gala and this commentary piece on the idea of a new Lake Norman county.

In the rundown of awards in the "news" piece, two awards were glaringly missing.  Both and the I77 Business Plan organizations received Distinguished Service awards from the LKN Chamber for their efforts to stop the HOT lanes project.  The entire list of awards is on the LKN Chamber website.  Moreover, the Lake Norman Citizen was the sponsor of the event!  It would seem pretty likely they had access to the entire list.

A more glaring and literal example of bias by omission in a news story would be hard to find.

Now go read the commentary piece.

The editor of the Citizen rakes Charlotte Observer columnist, Mark Washburn, over the coals for suggesting the the LKN area consider pushing for it to become its own county.  Again, this is just the writer's opinion (based on a level of research) and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

However, the aggressiveness of the editor's opinion and the high degree of snark with which it was delivered brings to mind the saying "tell us what your really think."

After reading that, I think it is safe to say the public knows.

When an editor allows a "news" piece into a publication with such a glaring ommission on a story where the ommission involves groups involved in the largest ongoing story in the area, and in that same edition the editor blasts away in a commentary piece involving that same issue, it's pretty easy to see why some in the area think the publication is "in the tank" on that issue.

For the record, this post - as are all posts at aShortChronicle - is just a piece of COMMENTARY. Please don't confuse it with NEWS.

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