Election bias leaking into articles about the youth vote

Election day is almost here.  I turned 18 a few weeks before the 2008 election and I’m sure a lot of people remember the Vote or Die Campaign flooding youth programs in 2008. It could be the fact that I watch less TV, but I feel as if this campaign the need for the youth vote has not been publicized as much. This article talks about how the fire has been dwindling in youth voters for the past four years. The article claims it is due to lack of employment and overpowering debt that many young adults face today. Another article, written for a smaller audience,  highlights the statistical evidence of Obama’s loss of youth voters.

In such a critical time in the Presidential campaign, I would argue that journalists have an even bigger responsibility to remain unbiased. Read this article from the FoxNews website that was written by the New York Post and watch Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN. Both pieces speak of the youth vote, but take different approaches in their conversation of the candidates. If it helps your response FoxNews is generally known as a conservative news source and CNN mainly remains moderate.

After reading and watching these pieces, how do you think the journalists did in conveying facts and information in an unbias way? Does one article do a better job than another? What tools; for example quotes, expert opinions, or using people from both sides in their stories, do the different journalists use that help them stay moderate or create bias? As a youth voter where do you turn to for your news? Lastly, campaigns are notorious for creating controversy and splitting people into two categories, do journalists have a responsibility to stand in the middle, or is the election a rare time that political views are allowed to leak into reporting?

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5 Responses to “Election bias leaking into articles about the youth vote”

  1. As a youth voter, I get most of my news about the election from TV, friends, and social media. I admit that I feel uninformed about most issues. Not because the information isn’t out there, but I find myself concerned by other factors. I think the youth voters are less involved in the election than older groups. This may be for a number of different reasons. I’m definitely voting, but I have friends who aren’t and some aren’t even registered to vote. Maybe youth voters feel as though the election doesn’t impact them as much as it actually will. Personally, it’s hard for me to conceptualize issues such as the health care, taxes, and national debt considering I’m still a student and don’t really deal with these topics yet.

    Though it can be difficult, I think it’s important for journalists to remain unbiased, especially in hot topics such as the election. Quotes may be a good way for journalists to prevent themselves from appearing biased. Quotes indicate exactly what a person said, so it is clear that it is someone else’s opinion. I think use of statistics is also a good way to convey facts, but it is important that journalists remember to always think about multiple sides to an issue.

  2. This is a very relevant and interesting topic–thanks Kirsten! I certainly have felt a lot less important, I suppose, in this election, as less attention has been given to youth voters. In 2008, Obama was fresh, new, young, and exciting–it wasn’t hard to see just by looking at the two candidates who seemed more relevant to us, as youth. That has definitely changed in the past 4 years, but it doesn’t diminish the importance of the youth vote, so the lack of attention from both parties has been surprising.
    The NYPost article seemed very strongly opinionated. It was fact-based, but there was definitely a feeling of bias, legitimate or not. I think since the authors represented outside groups, and not newspaper journalists, this changed how we can view the article. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it needs to be read with a “grain of salt.”
    I get much of my news from public radio, and some from social media (but don’t take much of that seriously!). I find that the constant stream of biased information and propaganda on anything other than public radio (especially friends on social media) is exhausting and generally a complete waste of time.

  3. Since I am a non-American citizen, my opinion of American politics is probably really different from everyone in the class and to be honest is probably really rudimentary, but I’ll do my best to answer these wonderful questions that Kristen has posted and hopefully offer up an international perspective to this highly pertinent issue.

    I am dual citizen of Australia and Thailand which entitles me to vote in both countries. In my life, I have participated in 2 elections (1 for Australia and 1 for Thailand) and let me tell you, the frenzy surrounding both of those elections does not even compare to this absolute media-fuelled CIRCUS surrounding the current American election. In Australia, I would generally turn to the television for political news but here, there is no way that I would turn to the television for anything related to the current election (other than to watch the debate) because everything that seems to be on television is just so biased- and not just regular biased but so BRUTALLY and EXAGGERATEDLY biased- that I sometimes do not know if I am watching a standard political campaign or a trailer for an epically sensationalized political mockumentary.

    What I have noticed in these campaigns are all these sweeping statements that politicians make about their opponents, such as “so & so want terrorists to take over America” or “so & so is solely responsible for the recession” (this might be an exaggeration, but you know what I mean) and I for one know that in Australia, this type of propaganda would not be tolerated. I think that because these campaigns, for the most part, target undecided voters, they feel the need to exaggerate claims and facts to convince people not to vote for their opponent, but in my opinion, the writers and journalists behind these campaigns should know better than to resort to using sweeping statements to get their point across- it seems so childish and completely unprofessional. If you are a journalist covering the election and the events proceeding it- you, of course, are allowed to voice your political opinions BUT remember your code of ethics: report accurately, specifically, and cut it out with the sweeping statements! Because of this, the Internet is where I’ve chosen to get my political fix, and not those biased and equally annoying political gossip websites, but just using the Internet as a resource for accessing the candidates’ academic and work histories, political beliefs, religious affiliations, has helped me make my mind up on which candidate I believe is right for me, and right for the nation.

  4. The Fox News article definitely had some sort “leaning” or bias, if you will. However, it provided me with a lot of statistics and, whether I agree with the article or not, it allowed me to learn more about youth voting issues. The Anderson Cooper clip gives us testimony from different perspectives, which allows him to stay moderate and appear unbiased. I felt that the clip, however, was a lot more boring to watch, and the information provided seemed superficial. I understand that television has a limited time frame, but the interviews appeared to quickly cover only basic information without providing anything new or exciting. It’s a challenge to provide unbiased information without slipping into mundane “he said, she said” reporting. Unfortunately it appears many journalists end up doing so.

    I don’t think it would be professional at all for a journalist to explicitly express their political views when reporting. But standing in the middle usually makes for a boring “he said, she said” piece. I don’t think it would be wrong to allow political views to guide the reporting process. It could add flavor to the piece and provide more substantial information if it is taken with a “grain of salt” like Peter said.

  5. I get the majority of my political news from the internet. I like to look at a variety of sources, and try to look for ones that aren’t leaning too far in one direction or another. That being said, I have pretty formed opinions on the issues that politicians are trying to address. I also talk to my friends about politics fairly often. I think it’s especially important to have conversations like this. especially with people who have different political views from myself. It is easy to get caught up in your own perspectives and forget that there are many different ways to view and issue and it is important to be well versed on all of the different arguments.

    I agree that it is not appropriate for journalists to express or push their political views on readers. Many readers don’t look at multiple sources and might take that opinion as the actual truth. It’s important to know if a source is more right or left leaning because articles on these sites generally have bias in one direction or another. I think that if you are unsure about a particular issue, whether or not you consider yourself more liberal or conservative, you should consult a moderate, credible source that expresses both sides of the story (and where different candidates stand on that issue). Articles should be fact based and avoid bias as much as possible. I found the Fox article definitely biased. I thought that the caption under the picture of Katy Perry, that “no one cares” about her singing at an Obama rally to be particularly telling. This article used quotes from the President and then used the journalist’s opinions directly after to contrast or refute his points. The word choice of the article also gave it a certain tone, which lended to the bias I felt while reading it.

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