Jun 26, 2005

Deconstructing Media Bias Through Blogging

As a Houstonian and an American overseas I have found myself in a unique postion at times of being expected to be an authority who can either dispel or confirm the perceptions of foreigners about my country back home. Likewise, I do my best at times to inform readers back home of the real situation on the ground here. Im proud that several of my stories have been later picked up afterwards by the media back home.

Recent examples are stories that were cannibalized by much of the media in the United States reporting of massive protests in Indonesia and Malaysia concerning the desecration of the Koran. I sat across from the US embassy that Sunday morning in Kuala Lumpur enjoying a cup of coffee and watching the rain pour down and then read the US papers the next day that spoke of a massive protest outside the embassy that morning. I guess I missed it.

Im happy to see that the Houston Chronicle has taken the step now to venture into the blogosphere, but with that step, the Houston Chronicle needs to be aware that the blogosphere can be a brutal place where the subtle sophistry and blatent bias of much of the media today can be both decontructed and dispelled in a matter of milliseconds.

In recent years I have corresponded with Mr. James Cambell and the Houston Chronicle on a few occasions where stories that were reported in the Houston Chronicle that were of concern overseas were either not factual or seemed so deliberately slanted almost to the point of appearing to have some malicious or nefarious intent. Has the Houston Chronicle been the victim of media cannibalization? Its really hard to say, because when I have offered a correction or two in the past, I have been rebuffed and told that only accredited international newswire information is accepted as fact.

Ironically as the Houston Chronicle ventures into the blogosphere, the following story finds itself on the front page of the Houston Chronicle online edition - "Gay voters rally against marriage amendment" , it is a story that many readers throughout the world might find confusing.

The first line of the headline story reads as follows:

"Bruce Smith and and Tony Carroll have been together for 10 years. They've been married for two... [sic]"

The harsh reality is that Mr. Smith and Mr. Carroll are not married. Two grown men "playing house" together in Texas is not a marriage and for the Houston Chronicle to pander to this pretense on behalf of these individuals is both irresponsible and shameful. This is not an ambiguous issue nor does it represent any political bias and surely it is not a "homophobic" or "hateful" statement. It is clearly a statement of fact.

Would the Houston Chronicle likewise report on the front page and imply that two advocates for the legalization of marijuana were sitting in a coffee shop in the Heights legally smoking a marijuana cigarette? If the answer is no, then the blatent sophistry of the previous statement becomes painfully obvious does it not?

And so... a big "Welcome" to the Houston Chronicle. Welcome to the blogosphere, the world of interactive reporting.

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