Letter to the Editor: Election bias in news

It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that I am writing to point out the blatant political bias that appeared in The Rider News before this fall’s two elections. Just a cursory examination of the political visits highlighted in the newspaper in two issues shows a lack of objectivity and an attempt to make the Democratic candidate appear and look better than the Republican counterpart.
I am not sure if these editorial decisions were made by wide-eyed college students who have been taught that all young people must be Democrats because that is the cool party of young people and all Republicans are old white males who want to take kids’ lunch money away, blah blah blah. I am sure you have heard these straw-man stereotypes in the media and in the classroom by your overtly left-wing professors.
Regardless of the source of the bias, it is poor journalism to portray one side in a different manner than the other.
When Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan got coverage of his visit in The Rider News on Sept. 25, it was relegated to the second page, the picture was black and white, and the article was a Q&A that was done to put him under the microscope and answer specific hard questions. Clearly, the theme of the piece was to hit him hard, and the picture while not bad, was nowhere near flattering. The opportunity to show off his personal side, a must in this political environment, was not afforded to the Republican.
Lonegan, always a long shot candidate, had risen quickly up the polls prior to his Rider visit. Based on Lonegan’s hard campaigning and the fact that his adversary Cory Booker was not campaigning because he was hobnobbing with the Matt Damon, Tom Hanks crowd in Hollywood, the race tightened. Thankfully, movie actors are there to solve our state’s problems. Booker was stumbling, Lonegan was rising ­— but that part was omitted from The Rider News.
On Oct. 22 Democratic gubernatorial challenger Barbara Buono came to campus to talk about her overwhelming long odds to beat Chris Christie. The coverage of the Buono appearance was far different than Lonegan’s. In this case, a large above-the-fold front-page story and color picture of the smiling candidate with a star-struck student told the story. If the front page coverage about a candidate 20-plus points behind wasn’t enough, the adoring love story moved to page three where instead of a Q&A, Buono’s interview allowed her the soapbox to promote her left-wing agenda and attack Christie.
Lonegan had a Q&A, while Buono’s piece included a caption that jabbed Christie by referring to him as “national celebrity.” Booker, who now is answering questions about whether he truly lives in Newark and spends a lot of time in Hollywood, 3,000 miles away from the Garden State, was not called a “national celebrity.” Somewhere a pot and a kettle are conversing.
Put this into context. Lonegan made a good showing, losing by less than 10 points. Buono, on the other hand, has no chance of winning. In fact the coyote has a better chance of catching the road runner than Buono does of even getting the faint whiff of a close defeat. However, if you look at the coverage in The Rider News, you would not know this.
-Dr. AJ Moore
Associate professor of journalism
Printed in the 11/6/13 edition.

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