Media bias is the bias or perceived bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media in the selection of events and stories that are reported and how they are covered. The term “media bias” implies a pervasive or widespread bias contravening the standards of journalism, rather than the perspective of an individual journalist or article. The direction and degree of media bias in various countries is widely disputed.
Practical limitations to media neutrality include the inability of journalists to report all available stories and facts, and the requirement that selected facts be linked into a coherent narrative. Government influence, including overt and covert censorship, biases the media in some countries, for example North Korea and Burma. Market forces that result in a biased presentation include the ownership of the news source, concentration of media ownership, the selection of staff, the preferences of an intended audience, and pressure from advertisers.
There are a number of national and international watchdog groups that report on bias in the media.
Types of bias
The most commonly discussed forms of bias occur when the media support or attack a particular political party, candidate, or ideology, but other common forms of bias include:
- Advertising bias, when stories are selected or slanted to please advertisers.
- Corporate bias, when stories are selected or slanted to please corporate owners of media.
- Mainstream bias, a tendency to report what everyone else is reporting, and to avoid stories that will offend anyone.
- Sensationalism, bias in favor of the exceptional over the ordinary, giving the impression that rare events, such as airplane crashes, are more common than common events, such as automobile crashes.
- Concision bias, a tendency to report views that can be summarized succinctly, crowding out more unconventional views that take time to explain.
Other forms of bias including reporting that favors or attacks a particular race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnic group, or even person.