In defending the War on Iraq recently, President Bush noted that Iraq has as much of a perception problem as a violent-destabilization-careening-toward-blood-red-civil war problem. Our leader said that one of the big reasons Americans think the war is going badly is because the media says its going badly. If only reporters would report some of the good things going on, morale would improve and Iraq could be a cheap knockoff of American democracy, instead of an expensive remake of the Balkans.
Such negativity extends well beyond Iraq. Does your news lead because it bleeds, or because your heart bleeds? And avoiding undue negative bias is not easy when a workforce consists of many highly educated, low-paid, overworked alcoholics.
Take the following quiz and see if your headline frowns should be turned upside down. Choose which of the following two leads more accurately tells the story.
1a. More than 2300 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.
1b. More than 147,000 U.S. troops have not died in Iraq.
2a. Insurgents assaulted an Iraqi police station.
2b. Employment opportunities in Iraqi security are booming!
3a. Electricity output in Iraq is still below pre-invasion levels.
3b. When the lights are on, you can clearly see the purple fingers of many Iraqis.
4a. Many parts of Baghdad are out of control.
4b. The United States has proven for years that non-violent capital cities are overrated.
5a. Due to the U.S. being preoccupied in Iraq, Iran and North Korea are moving forward with their nuclear weapons programs.
5b. Due to the U.S. war in Iraq, the White House now knows exactly which countries are making nuclear weapons.
6a. Democrats in Congress is investigating whether the President's authorization of wiretapping was illegal.
6b. The President is spying on your neighbors so you don't have to.
7a. Republicans in Congress want to forcibly deport or imprison many illegal immigrants.
7b. Republicans in Congress want to reunite many immigrants with their friends and family.
8a. President Bush's appointees to the Supreme Court could roll back women's reproductive freedoms.
8b. President Bush's appointees to the Supreme Court could roll back women's reproductive freedoms—huzzah!
9a. Prohibitions against stem cell research prevent research that could cure many diseases.
9b. Prohibitions against stem cell research encourages many sick people to pray for miracles.
10a. Abstinence-only education programs have not been successful at preventing sexual activity and teen pregnancy.
10b. Abstinence-only education programs have been highly successful at identifying the class sluts.
11a. Global warming is inducing Arctic melting, which could lead to rising sea levels and catastrophic climate changes.
11b. Surf's up in Arizona? How Tucson could be the hot beach property of the 22nd century.
12a. Tom DeLay was forced to resign because he was facing indictments for illegal campaign contributions.
12b. Tom DeLay is leaving Congress to bring his skills for fundraising and bookkeeping to the private sector.
13a. The current response to rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina has kept many African-American residents away from their New Orleans homes.
13b. The current response to rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina has kept many African-American residents away from New Orleans.
14a. The fiscal policies of the Bush Administration could endanger the future of Social Security, Medicaid, and other social services.
14b. Here are ten great ideas for spending the extra hundred bucks you saved on your taxes!
15a. President Bush's approval rating is at an all-time low.
15b. President Bush's resolve is so firm, most Americans cannot swallow it.
25-30: FOXy Fact Finder. For every cloud there's a silver lining, so why look down to see what's happening on the ground? Your leads help our leaders lead us to victory.
20-24: Fair and Blah-lanced: You're never going to graduate from MSNBC with this attitude. The news is supposed to report so that the audience decides what's best for America. Hop off that fence you're straddling and get on the sunny side of reporting.
15-19: Negative Newsie. Every stroke of your pen cuts Lady Liberty across the face. Your assignment and punishment: to have your eyelids taped open and watch the musical Newsies over and over until you learn how to sing and dance properly.