Bias Free Media? Think Again

Yesterday, February 28th, while surfing Google News, I stumbled across the idea of checking if the Online media is really progressive and unbiased as we all have come to believe(or in some instances have been made to believe).For my experiment, I searched Google news for following key terms: Angola, Burundi, Nepal, Oscar Awards, Angelina Jolie, Winter Olympics, Mariah Carey, Chinese Government, Hurricane Katrina. The reason I chose these are simple, Angola, Burundi and Nepal are among the poorest nations of this world. Angola has life expectancy of 39 years for men and 42 for women, Burundi has per capita income of $90 (cost of a pair of jeans in the malls), and civil war in Nepal has almost crashed the economy, deepening the poverty crises.

In contrast, far from the troubled poor nations, in glamorous Kodak theater Oscar Award celebrates the bold and beautiful of Hollywood. Rich and beautiful people celebrate the evening with fine wine and delightful gourmet meals. Angelina Joile, once wild actress now has taken up the role of “do-good” princess for Africa and Asia. Winter Olympics, celebrates the true spirit of sportsmanship. Mariah Carey (do I have to describe her..?).Chinese government, leading the red revolution beyond the nation’s borders, and Hurricane Katrina, six months later hundreds of people are still without a home, water or electricity in the most powerful nation.

What I found made it clear, online media like it print counterpart has bias against the sad stories, not so pretty pictures. It thrives on gossip, and the digital divide has made sure the rich nations feed more into it than the ones lagging behind. Google news search with Angola gave out 2,880 results, Burundi: 1,060 and Nepal 8,760.Compare it with Oscar Award:11,200, Angelina Jolie:3,710,Winter Olympics:51,900,Katrina: 64,400, Chinese Government: 21,100.

Just looking at numbers, we can say that crises in Burundi gets less coverage than Oscar Award, Angola gets fewer spots that winter Olympics and American natural disaster gets more coverage than civil war in Nepal. There may be number of reasons why the world cares more about who gets the Oscars than about the country where a person is living on less than a dollar a day or why there is more news on the Chinese government compared to the Government of Nepal which has essentially pushed the country deeper into war. My reasoning says that this all is because people like me and you want this to happen. We have allowed the media to function as it pleases, without any responsibility towards the people. You buy a magazine costing $3.00 that has smiling Brad Pitt on cover but would not donate a dollar to save AIDS patients in Africa. I pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee at StarBucks but would not donate two dollars to my local charity helping the homeless. It is because of our twisted preferences, because of our love for the beautiful, glamorous, powerful and strong that the media is choosing to ignore all that is ugly, difficult and shakes our conscience. Yes the media is biased, print and cyber alike. We are biased and that is why our media is biased, our government is biased and our social conscience is biased. The fact that we need Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reily to get us thinking about our world is an example of how much bias we have in our system

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