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Detecting Media Bias

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Detecting Media Bias

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When media messages show preference, prejudice, or partiality to one idea or person, they are biased. As a media consumer, you need to recognize media bias and avoid taking such messages at face value. Otherwise, you risk believing something based on faulty or incomplete information.

Unfortunately, biased messages surround you, from billboards to political speeches. This activity will help you discover bias.

Your Turn Search the Web for a news story or political ad.  Answer these questions about the message. Based on the number of times you answer "yes," indicate how biased the message is.

  1. Is the language extreme, characterized by threats or all-or-nothing statements?
  2. Does the message appeal to emotion rather than reason or logic?
  3. Does the message simplify or generalize information?
  4. Does the message offer a one-sided or limited view on the topic?
  5. Does the logic of the message seem fuzzy or distorted?

Your Turn Think about the message that you analyzed. Answer the following questions.

  1. What specific examples of bias did you detect?
  2. If you did not detect any bias, what qualities made the message seem unbiased? Provide specific examples.
  3. Should your classmates trust the information in the message? Why or why not?

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Answer Key:

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