Evaluating Media Bias

By (author) Adam J. Schiffer

Publication date:

13 July 2017

Length of book:

158 pages

Publisher

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442265653

Media bias has been a hot-button issue for several decades and it features prominently in the post-2016 political conversation. Yet, it receives only spotty treatment in existing materials aimed at political communication or introductory American politics courses.

Evaluating Media Bias is a brief, supplemental resource that provides an academically informed but broadly accessible overview of the major concepts and controversies involving media bias. Adam Schiffer explores the contours of the partisan-bias debate before pivoting to real biases: the patterns, constraints, and shortcomings plaguing American political news. Media bias is more relevant than ever in the aftermath of the presidential election, which launched a flurry of media criticism from scholars, commentators, and thoughtful news professionals.

Engaging and informative, this text reviews what we know about media bias, offers timely case studies as illustration, and introduces an original framework for unifying diverse conversations about this topic that is the subject of so much ire in our country.
Evaluating Media Bias allows students of American politics, and politically aware citizens alike, the means of detecting and evaluating bias for themselves, and thus join the national conversation about the state of American news media.
Schiffer's timely volume on the real problems with news media debunks common allegations of political bias, in particular liberal bias. The author explains in his introduction that ‘[the media] sometimes inflict serious injury on informed citizenship through a litany of routines, biases, and shortcomings that leave news consumers ill-equipped to navigate contemporary politics.’ For example, he discusses the media’s focus on the competition and personalities of campaigns and elections rather than comprehensive coverage of the complex matters of policy. He also notes how news stories are depicted as isolated events instead of patterns that emerge over time, which would allow for more reflection and critical thinking. Schiffer also blames the media for its inattention to the verification of facts. And he reminds us that news media is interested in covering the sensational over more substantial themes and topics that cannot be converted into sound bites. The most compelling chapters in the book are those that explain how Donald Trump was able to use ‘every known quirk and pattern of the mainstream media’ to his advantage after he first declared himself a presidential nominee on June 16, 2015: novelty, conflict, negativity, sex/vulgarity, personalization, obsession with celebrity, simplicity, and horse-race coverage.

Summing Up:
Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.