Friday, October 23, 2009

Biased Journalism? Oh You Betcha!!

The other night I was watching the news and the story came up about the shooting death of Oscar Grant and the change of venue for the trial of former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle.

As I listened to the story, the pictures of both victims caught my attention. The picture of Oscar Grant showed a smiling young man. The picture of a stern faced Johannes Mehserle was his booking photo at Santa Rita Jail. Now who in the hell would be smiling for a booking photo, especially for this situation?

This pissed me off! Okay we all know this is a very touchy situation with fingers being pointed everywhere claiming racism, police cover up, and so on and so forth.

Nobody knows exactly what happened on that BART platform or what was going through the minds of Oscar Grant and Johannes Mehserle. Unfortunately Oscar Grant can't tell his side.

Oscar Grant didn't deserve to die, but the media is painting him to be a great guy and anglicising him, while the media demonizes Johannes Mehserle. Tell me that the two different photos don't have an affect on public opinion and if you believe that you probably believe in the Wizard of Oz.

That just goes to show that our media, meaning television news and newspapers aren't neutral, unbiased and are not reporting all of the facts about both of these individuals and if they have they have minimized the criminal history of one of the individuals involved.

I'm glad the Judge granted a change of venue, the Bay Area is too inflamed on both sides to allow a fair trial.

Where are the ethics of these reporters be they television or newspaper? Sensationalizing the story and twisting the facts is what appears to drive these people to get more viewers or readers. Shame on those "sheeple" who's opinions rely on the crap that is written or televised.


  1. I work in television as an Associate Producer(not in the Bay Area, or even in California), in our area we recently had a local lawmaker arrested for his 3rd OWI this year. I chose to use his official picture, instead of his mug shot for this very reason. In our newsroom we try very hard to be fair and objective, even if we sometimes fall short, please don't paint everyone in the media with the same brush.

  2. Newspapers and tv news are there to sell their product. They are never "fair and balanced" when it comes to issues involving law enforcement and a minority.

  3. Sweet Chuck, my hats off to you and others in your profession who do their best to fair and objective. Maybe I should have been more specific and used my broad paint brush more precisely for the San Francisco Bay Area news groups. Thanks for your comment.

  4. I understand what you are saying but if the situation had been reversed and Grant had been the shooter, they would have shown a smiling picture of Mehserle and a mugshot of the suspect.

    I don't think that would have bothered you. So, perhaps its not the media that's biased in this case?

  5. "Shame on those "sheeple" who's opinions rely on the crap that is written or televised."

    Does this apply to all the folks on the other side of the aisle who get their "news" and "information" from Fox?

  6. This is a general question -- not a comment on your post.

    Should a motorist turn of their interior lights when pulled over after dark? This was a point of debate at lunch today. One side says it makes the officer more comfortable. My side says that you should keep your hands high up on the wheel until asked to get your papers by The Man.

    Where do you come down on this?

  7. My take is it would be up to the individual driver. If the interior lights can be turned on without the officer thinking a furtive movement is being made, it makes the officer's job easier of seeing into the passenger compartment of the car. If you feel uncomfortable turning anything on then your best bet would be to keep your hands high up on the steering wheel, and when possible ask to turn on the interior dome light. Light is sight which equates to safety at night, hence the blinding patrol car spotlight and flashlight. I hope that answers your question.

  8. I hope every person who sits on that jury is given the instruction to put themselves in the moment and the situation as it happened, not to look at it in hindsight.

  9. It is definitely going to be a difficult trial, no doubt about it!

  10. I know that in my newsroom (print, not TV) the general policy was to use the most recent photo available of the person in question, so it may not have been deliberate. But from your description it does sound like people could make value judgements about the case based on the contrast of the two men's photos, and the station editors should have used the police officer's departmental head shot. Appearances are important. I hope that the photo choice was made thoughtlessly rather than deliberately, but either way it sounds like a bad decision.

    When you're working on a deadline you always hope that someone is looking out for things like that, but depressingly often they slip through the cracks - and there are real-world consequences for the people that we cover. As one of my journalism professors used to say, "A printing press is an incredibly heavy object when dropped on someone's head."