Friday, May 2, 2008

Another optomistic economic spin by the Times

The New York Times must really be trying to shed the "bias" shadow, as it has released another article today about the economy, and instead of starting with evidence that the country is near or heading into a recession, it started with the good news first.

So here, in my investigation to show that the New York Times has a liberal slant, I'm almost tempted to say it doesn't exist. Still my sample is small, but I'm impressed at this point in time.

It always seems that in the past few election cycles when a republican is in office, the media tended to try to make the economy look worse. They can't really lie about the news, but they can shape their articles so that the worse news comes first and then, later in the story, get into the news that makes the economy look good. They shape the story this way because they know that most people, as I stated yesterday, read the first few paragraphs of a story and then move on.

In trying to think of a reason the NYTimes reporters would want to make the economy look good, if that is in actuality what they are doing, I'm now forced to wonder if maybe they think that Americans might not necessarily blame the republican president for the ailing economy but the democrats, who control both the House and the Senate, who do have the power to make some changes that would in effect benefit or hurt the economy.

One of the things we learn as journalists is that when we start our stories we start with the most important news, and in a reverse pyramid form, end the story with the least important. The purpose of this is because if someone only reads the first couple paragraphs, which happens most of the time, he will get the most important news. And, if something has to be cut to fit the story in the press, the editor simply starts cutting from the bottom up.

Thus is why it is impressive as the times article starts with the unfortunate note that 20,000 more workers lost their jobs in April, which is evidence the "economy is ensnared in a recession." But, it sets a more positive note in the next paragraph:

"But the size of the loss was significantly smaller than many analysts predicted, and the unemployment rate nudged down to 5 percent, sowing hopes that the economy may not suffer as severely as some have feared."

Then, as the Times did in yesterdays optimistic story about the economy, the reporter reiterates the "optimistic" economic picture with a quote:

“The good news is it strongly argues that this downturn will be mild and short lived,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s “As long as businesses hold the line on their layoffs, the economy will weaken, but it won’t unravel.”

While this more optimistic trend is true, the Times EASILY could have started this story with more pessimistic news, which it got into as the article wore on, as it was noted later that the average weekly wages fell $3.55 to $602.56.

That, coupled with the fact that the number of people taking on a second job, are proof that inflation, rising food, and rising gas prices, plummeting real estate prices, and rising foreclosure rates, and "and tightening credit conditions as jittery banks hold on to their dollars," are forcing Americans to "feel the pinch."

This "feeling the pinch" is also evidenced by the rising number of people who are now working part time jobs, which is something I myself have been pondering.

Plus, the article could have started with the FACT that the unemployment rate does not necessarily represent the number of unemployed, as the number of people who have simply given up looking for work rose to 412,000.

Yet, while there was a ton of pessimistic news about the economy that would have allowed for this reporter to set a more pessimistic tone regarding the economy, the reporter was fair in his reporting once again today and reported the news in a positive way.

Thus, as the election dawns closer, this reporter sees no evidence yet of media bias, at least as it comes to the economy. Thus, once again, I am impressed.


Khaki Elephant said...

It seems that the NYT's declining circulation may be taking its toll on their writing. Are they trying to bring some conservatives back into the fold?

Nikki said...

I also see that CNN has hired Tony Snow. He filled in for Bill O'Reilly on the radio a couple of weeks ago and he was outstanding. He will be a force to be reckoned with on that station. CNN also seems like they are trying to be a little more sympathetic to the right they haven't been making me throw up as much lately. The NYT's has lost a lot of credibility because there are those willing to slam the paper like the O'Reillys. Love it! :)N