Bias not only what’s written, but what is not
The Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 edition of The Alpena News was somewhat unusual in that it included two comic sections — the usual color section and Managing Editor Justin A. Hinkley’s commentary, “I ran the numbers, and we’re not biased”.
Mr. Hinkley reported that a reader had brought to his office a spreadsheet breaking down columnists, editorial cartoons, and Associated Press (AP) news stories in every edition between Sept. 23, 2019 and Nov. 14, 2019 in which the reader cited bias against President Donald Trump. I have been a longtime critic of The News’ use of the AP for their news feed. It wasn’t I that put that kind of effort forward, but I do agree and I commend that reader for his analysis and diligence.
Mr. Hinkley’s conclusion was that The News was not biased. Of course that is his analysis and opinion. Bias includes not only what IS printed, but also what is NOT printed. Bias also is shown in the headlining of the articles and commentaries. It is generally recognized that many, if not most people, don’t read too far into most articles beyond the headlines and form their opinions based on the headlines. It is pretty obvious by the AP headlining in The News just what they want you to think.
Mr. Hinkley has bemoaned in many past commentaries the loss of newspapers and staffs due to decline in readership. Maybe it is time for Mr. Hinkley and other editors to take a long, hard look in the mirror and seriously ask themselves why people are turning away. People are tired of the bias. If Mr. Hinkley can’t see it, well, his readers can. If that long, hard look I mentioned isn’t taken seriously, Mr. Hinkley and other newspaper editors can expect further readership losses.