Sunday, September 15, 2002

Bias, Clear To See

Well, to the average Joe, it would be clear and compelling evidence of bias. But one suspects that the Commercial Appeal would call it "just doing their job" and be completely baffled by the charge. Still, in Saturday's CA, under a top-of-the-fold headline that, by itself, is pretty damning, the CA pairs up two stories about Memphians who have killed intruders in their home.

The headline, you ask? "They Slew Intruders"


Ostensibly, they purport to look into the mindset and subsequent feelings of two men who have killed criminals. But the story about the remorseful and troubled James Kern is almost four times as long as the perfunctory story about Jeffrey Armstrong, who has clear and unrepentant feelings. The Kern story makes much about how troubled he's been, even going so far as to talk with his victim's mother. The Armstrong story minces few words and doesn't go far at all.

Let's go next to the individual headlines. Kern's story is labelled "Justified, unsatisfied, coach dwells on 'whatifs.'" He was right, but unhappily so. The Armstrong story, though, is "No regret, says dweller who wonders why burglar did it." Why is Armstrong a "dweller?" Because he lived in an apartment? That's odd, as the headline gives an impression of "moving on." And the "wonder" is only a small part of the story. Armstrong isn't much concerned by his criminal's motives.

At least, not as much as the CA is.

Until next time,

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