Not long after the first video images of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were broadcast, TV newsrooms presented their reports, adorned by designer logos and dramatic theme songs. Typical was CNN's title logo "America Under Attack" projected over an ominous soundtrack. This was the context in which initial reports covering the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing wrongfully blamed Arab terrorists. Of course, TV viewers later learned that U.S. based right-wing extremists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were responsible.
With the subordination of journalism to the demands of ratings and profit margins, many broadcast news divisions have transformed their reports on breaking news stories to something more akin to a game show. The world of infotainment, as it has been dubbed in broadcast and cable TV, often focuses more attention on style than substance. Today's corporate television executives have found it far less expensive and more profitable to invite several guests into a studio to shout at each other rather than devote resources needed to hire skilled investigative journalists to uncover the truth. This has led many critics to charge the media with gross negligence of their professional ethics that in the end deprives the public of vital information.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Robert Jensen, associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas, Austin, who evaluates the credibility and bias found in mainstream corporate media reporting of the devastating New York-Washington terror attacks.
Contact the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting or FAIR to read more about media omission and bias by calling (212) 633-6700 or visit their Web site at www.fair.org
Listen to the debate