Combs Spouts Off

"It's my opinion and it's very true."

  • Calendar

    July 2024
    S M T W T F S
  • Recent Posts

  • Tag Cloud

  • Archives

AP: not just anti-American

Posted by Richard on June 11, 2006

Media bias doesn’t just manifest itself in politics. Reporters and editors are continually making decisions about the relative importance of different facts, what to include or exclude, what to emphasize, etc., and those decisions are inevitably affected by their beliefs, preconceptions, interests, and prejudices. I’m one of those who thinks reporters should stop pretending to be entirely objective. In politics especially, I think we’re better served by honesty and transparency than by a pretend objectivity.

Nonetheless, reporters and editors should try to be fair and balanced, and they should ask themselves, "Does this story leave out something or misrepresent the situation because of my own blinders?" Case in point: the June 8 Rocky Mountain News carried an Associated Press story by Sara Karush headlined Toyota, Lexus tops in quality rankings. It began thus (emphasis added):

Toyota Motor Corp. held onto its dominant position in annual vehicle quality rankings, which were revamped to highlight design and layout problems that can irritate consumers as much as defects.

Toyota and Lexus, the automaker’s luxury brand, took the top spot in 11 out of 19 vehicle categories in the survey released Wednesday by J.D. Power and Associates. Porsche AG came in first in the overall ranking of brands, averaging 91 problems per 100 vehicles. That compared with an industry average of 124 problems per 100 vehicles.

Lexus came in second in the overall nameplate rankings, with 93 problems per 100 vehicles, while the Toyota brand was fourth with 106. The two brands scored particularly well on the defect side of the equation. 

The story contained 20 paragraphs in both its print and on-line versions (curiously, the print version added an important graphic not available on line). In addition to Toyota, Lexus, and Porsche, the story focused on BMW, which had the distinction of relatively few manufacturing defects, but very poor marks for ergonomics (design defects). Other brands mentioned in the story included GM, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Chrysler, and Ford.

From the quote above, you know that Porsche took the top spot, Lexus was 2nd, and Toyota was 4th. What you won’t find anywhere in the 20 paragraphs is the name of the number 3 brand, the one that finished ahead of Toyota: Hyundai.

The graphic included with the print version showed you the scores of all vehicle brands, but the on-line story didn’t include that. And the AP’s Sarah Karush apparently didn’t think it worth mentioning (at least, in the first 20 paragraphs) that the upstart Korean manufacturer known primarily for cheap econoboxes has surpassed Toyota in initial quality. Could there be an anti-Korean bias at the Associated Press? πŸ˜‰

For a remarkable example of how two reporters can present the same data from the same study in strikingly different ways, compare the RMN/AP story with Sarah Webster’s Detroit Free Press story, J.D. POWER SURVEY: Hyundai leapfrogs Toyota in quality. It began thus (emphasis added):

Maybe Hyundai Motor Co. drivers don’t need that 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty after all.

The South Korean automaker known for its value pricing — all its vehicles sell for less than $29,000 — delivered a jaw-dropping performance in J.D. Power and Associates’ annual survey on new-vehicle quality, which was released Wednesday.

Hyundai was the No. 1 non-premium brand in the United States, edging past Toyota, the Japanese brand whose rock-solid quality reputation has been shaking Detroit’s dominance in the nation’s auto market for years.

Overall, Hyundai was No. 3 in this year’s report, behind No. 1 Porsche and No. 2 Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand, and right ahead of Toyota. Last year, Hyundai was No. 11, so the leap made Hyundai the third-most improved nameplate this year.

Now, you defenders of the media explain to me again how virtually all mainstream journalists are objective, how I can count on what I see in the mainstream media to be a complete, accurate, and unbiased presentation of the facts, and how I should stop worrying about slanted, incomplete, inaccurate information. πŸ™‚

Subscribe To Site:

2 Responses to “AP: not just anti-American”

  1. VRB said

    You don’t count on any media. It means you have to do more research on the subject that interest you.

  2. Anonymous said

    VRB & Combs:

    VRB: Ever listen to Conservatives, who say children should be taught sex at home by their parents, totally disregarding the facts that some parents will never talk “Sex” with their kids and that many youths don’t even have parents. Do Conservatives even care about those groups? NO! How could they care when they don’t even think about them!

    The same applies to “It means you have to do more research on the subject that interest you.”

    You have forgotten those people who don’t even have a computer or Internet access, those people who don’t even know about a particular subject, and those people who are just plain Internet Dummies and even the just plain lazy. That’s why Bloggers blog – to make people aware. Admittedly if you don’t have Internet access, you can’t read our Wisdom. But it’s our only method of informing.

    When you make an assertion like that, you should consider who will not be able to do it and who will not even know about it.

    Combs: You are Right-On-Target! Great Observation!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.