Bias by Placement? You Decide

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel |  6-29-2017


Every once and awhile at WMCF we are alerted to various news stories or features that make us furrow our brows and ask:  is it bias or not?

Here’s one such example. On the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s website, they have a practice of featuring “Top Videos” embedded next to a news story. Take this snapshot from June 29th:

Next, watch the actual video:

Obviously, this video is biased. Even without regard to her hyperbole that “millions of people are going to die” if the US Senate healthcare bill is passed, this woman clearly has her opinions on Sen. Johnson and healthcare reform, and they are not positive. The question becomes: is the Journal-Sentinel’s act of featuring this video on its website alongside actual “news” media bias?

Now, in fairness, the Journal-Sentinel is not featuring this video as a “news” story – it is just featuring the video for anyone who may be interested in hearing her opinions. Does this, then, constitute a video editorial? Maybe, but the video is also featured alongside other videos that are “newsworthy.” The woman is also being interviewed by a Journal-Sentinel reporter.

Thus, our inclination is to identify this as bias by placement: choosing to feature this biased opinion video among otherwise newsworthy videos in order to lend the opinions expressed as more credible. Or, at the very least, to cause more people to watch the video than they would otherwise. This is akin to media embedding biased social media postings within stories. See our previous coverage of such an example here.

With that said, maybe the Journal-Sentinel just liked this woman’s blue hair. We’ll let you decide . . . both on the bias and on the hair . . .

Editor’s Note: Date of story updated

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