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Listening Post

Obamacare: Reporting or distorting?

We examine why the US media are struggling to objectively cover the issues around Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Last Modified: 15 Oct 2013 09:35
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Numerous US federal government services drew to a halt on October 1, 2013, because America's politicians disagreed over the Affordable Care Act - better known as 'Obamacare'. As in any political battle there are two sides to the story and maintaining neutrality in the media has seen journalists blaming both sides equally.

However, in the current climate of chronic division, this neutrality has run counter to that other axiom of journalistic responsibility - objectivity.

US journalists, in the struggle to avoid being accused of taking sides, have instead taken the path of least resistance, using terms like "gridlock" and "impasse" to imply that Republicans and Democrats are equally culpable. The danger arises when this is not an accurate representation of the facts, when the equivalence they draw is false, and the public are presented with a narrative that skirts the reality of a political system crippled by partisanship.

Our News Divide this week features Hadas Gold, a media reporter for Politico; Brooke Gladstone, the managing editor of NPR's On The Media; Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; and Jeremy Holden, a research director at Media Matters for America.

This week's Newsbytes: In Mosul, two Iraqi journalists were killed in what has been described as a targeted attack; the continuing tussle between government and journalists in Sudan over the coverage of fuel-price protests; and the space-age Fox News News Deck where Shepard Smith 'boldly goes' where no TV news anchor has gone before.

Our feature investigates the role of the readers' editor or 'ombudsman' - the bridge between newsrooms and their audiences. Conveying criticisms and holding editors to account can be a lonely task and also a perilous one as Yavuz Baydar, a Turkish ombudsman, found out when he was fired earlier this year. Listening Post’s Marcela Pizzaro takes a closer look.

Finally, if you have  ever wondered what difference all that baton-waving makes when an orchestra performs, you will enjoy our Web Video of the week. Prankster collective ImprovEverywhere gave members of the public a chance to experience for themselves the feeling of having an orchestra at their fingertips in a street performance they called "Conduct Us". Any shortcomings in musical merit were far outweighed by the random outburst of streetside joy.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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