The Bias of Communication: Media and Bias

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On the 9th of September 2001, an estimated audience of 2 billion people watched the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, live on television (Giddens and Sutton, 2013: p766). The notion that information can be spread so fast and to so many receivers is still a relatively new notion to modern society but it has become such an integral part of our everyday lives. As Macionis and Plummer (2012: p762) state, “this is the time of the media”, with 73% of UK adults accessing the Internet everyday (Ons, 2013). The statistics show that modern media is a huge foundation of our everyday lives, with around 79% of the UK population in 2002 citing television as their main source of world news (Philo and Berry, 20011: p276). Yet how biased is the media we rely on and what is the source of the bias? In this essay, I will seek to address these two concerns, by analysing the forms of media and then the content of media, and examining how these two aspects could be understood as containing bias.
Over the course of human history it can be seen that the forms of media that have been used can be separated into four broad categories. There are oral cultures, which originated around 100, 000 years ago and are where speech is the only, or primary, means of communication (Macionis and Plummer, 2012: p766). There are writing cultures, where written languages are developed and become the most effective means of communication (ibid). Print cultures developed more recently, beginning with the invention of movable type printing in China as early as 1040 AD, and then more famously by Johannes Gutenberg in Germany around 1450 AD (ibid; Fulcher and Scott, 2011: p360). Finally there are electronic cultures, which are currently what most of humanity’s communic...

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