Thursday, November 12, 2009

Opinion vs. News

The Denver Post had a news story on November 10 with the headline “Heat is on Colorado climate-change guru.” The subhead to the piece was “Conservatives criticize Gov. Ritter adviser Alice Madden for also working for a liberal group.”

The Denver Post has a single quote from Jessica Corry, a “conservative political analyst” who doesn’t like that Colorado State Climate Change Coordinator Alice Madden receives $3,000 a month from the Center for American Progress (CAP) while she advises our Governor on state policy.

Aside from the paragraph with this quote, the rest of the news story is a narrative explaining why this arrangement is “right and natural” and good for the state of Colorado. It brings to mind the technique used by Attorney General Jerry Brown to address the climate change issue in California.

That was Tuesday. Today (Thursday) the Opinion Section of the Denver Post has a letter from Ms. Madden, saying that she has “…notified CAP that I am withdrawing from the fellowship program effective immediately.”

So everything turns out for the good! A close adviser to our Governor no longer has “an appearance of potential conflict.”

That is true, but the coverage of the incident is what is important. It is another example of the infrastructure bias in our newspapers. The “News” coverage explains why the situation is good for Colorado, characterizing Ms. Madden as a devoted public servant being attacked by a Conservative. The “Opinion” section is where the facts of the situation are weighed and the eventual resolution is published.

If you are in a country where characterizations are “News” and facts are “Opinion”, you might honestly question if there is cultural bias in place.

Welcome to my blog.

UPDATE 9/19/2011:
Jon Caldara at People's Press Collective highlights Dr. Paul Prentice's comments on this phenomenon at the Colorado Springs Gazette.

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