Wednesday, September 10, 2008

the spin war

Now don't get me wrong. I really like Anderson Cooper. His show AC 360 is on late but is pretty good. He has a young fresh way of dealing with the news.

But one thing he said today was interesting. He wanted to look at the views that the VP candidates have on abortion. What was really strange was the way he described Palin's view of abortion. He said her view was "anti-choice." Since when did the "pro-life" view get re-named "anti-choice."

The way the AC360 reporter who actually reported the piece described McCain/Palin as "anti-abortion". The way he described Obama/Biden was "for abortion rights." Notice the subtle shift from "pro-life" to "anti-abortion." Also notice the positive language used in the labels "pro-choice" and "for abortion rights."

These are the subtle battles over language that few notice but many are affected by. "Pro-life" sounds positive. But if the media calls it "anti-choice" or "anti-abortion" they can paint that view in a more negative light. Both "pro-choice" and "for abortion rights" have a positive spin on it.

If the media wants to remain "unbiased" as they claim, they should stick with the language of "pro-life" and "pro-choice." If they want to start using "anti-choice" or "anti-abortion" to describe the pro-life view then they need to do the same on the other side. This means they would need to change "for abortion rights" to something like "anti-life" or "pro-abortion." Of course this is not something they are likely to do. If they wouldn't do the latter then they should avoid doing the former.

Framing language in certain ways changes the way people view the issue. Biased framing of language is what we call "spin." News organizations should try to leave "spin" to the pundants and try to stick to using fair and equal language.


Post a Comment

<< Home