I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

19 July 2011

News Bias.

I often take umbrage with Chronicle stories because I find their framing biased.  For instance, their political reporting on the debt limit has been pretty bad with the throwaway comments.  They usually manage to toss in something about increasing Medicare costs and how they are unsustainable, but they link Social Security into their "everyone agrees that cuts are needed" line.  Since Social Security's financials do not mimic Medicare's, this is bad framing.  Even if everyone (except people like me, I suppose) agreed that Social Security needed to be trimmed, it doesn't follow that it is unsustainably budgeted just because Medicare is.

What bothers me more is the bias in what stories get told.  By the Chronicle's lights, SFUSD has had two important things going on this summer: tossing out workbooks and planning what to do with their Mission St. property.  While SFUSD has been wasting resources (cough) and worrying about things other than education (because teacher housing has nothing to do with maintaining a stable teaching force, and teachers have nothing to do with education), charter schools have been recruiting an awesome workforce!

This article has bad framing: Aspire gets a pass on its all-test, all-the-time approach.  The notion that charter schools "cherry-pick" is mentioned, but Aspire gets a pass - again, without any proof.  And Apsire's flacks make the general college-ready claims, despite the fact that Aspire has not been around long enough to prove it.

But what really irritates me is that SFUSD also has an Urban Residency Program.  SFUSD serves over 50,000 students in the Bay Area.  Aspire serves 10,000 nationally.  SFUSD's program works with local philanthropies and USF (also Stanford).  Aspire works with the University of the Pacific.  SFUSD's program has a bigger impact on Bay Area students.  But it's not the one that gets the press.

Covering Aspire's "innovative" program is one thing.  Ignoring SFUSD's is another.  It's when you add it up that problems happen.  What the trend of the stories reported creates is a narrative of awesome charter schools doing awesome things while SFUSD wastes public resources.  It's not accurate, and it's not fair.

Whether this is a global and intended bias at the Chronicle or just an artifact of what seemed newsworthy on any one day is irrelevant.  The Chronicle's story choice is abdicating its responsibility to objective coverage.

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