Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sometimes Size Does Matter(budget deficit)

I read several articles from The New York Times, USA today, The BBC and the Los Angeles Times pertaining to the recent budget cuts instituted by U.S. congress.

Aside from the media frenzy surrounding congresswoman Gifford's return after her near fatal injury to vote,( which seemed to be unanimously celebrated), the budget cuts spurred a number of polarized reports from from several different news outlets.

Perhaps as evidence of the diminishing presence of print journalism.(and my diminishing wallet), I found all my sources via the interweb.

The NY times article I read is titled " To Escape Chaos, a Terrible Deal", and doesn't stop there at expressing disapproval to the budget cuts. It describes the deal as " nearly complete capitulation to the hostage-taking demands of Republican extremists" and goes on to say that "Democrats will have no choice but to swallow their fury, accept the deal and fight harder the next time. "

The Times doesn't hide itself from being known as a liberal paper and I'd imagine their agenda manifests clearly in this article.

The BBC on the other hand was by far the most optimistic paper that i read concerning the budget issue. They do admit having budget cuts does not necessarily mean that the U.S. will cut spending, but they acknowledge the cuts as "..a start, a psychological turning point, the moment after years of running up debts that the US government at last started to get its budget house in order" Interesting enough the BBC is the only one of these news outlets that are not owned by a corporation or a public interest as its been operated by the Royal Charter since 1927 (2).

Whereas the Times article regularly uses words such as "extortion, and "arbitrary butchering" to describe the event, the BBC describes the cuts as "calculated."
Even without divulging deep into the material, you can easy tell what side of the debate each paper is on.

USA today was a little more centric than the BBC and the NY times. They touched on both sides of the issue arguing that the budget cuts may stunt economic growth but also include the right wing viewpoint that the opposite could happen and that cutting a budget can spur growth in itself(3).
I had a hard time figuring out whether USA today was a liberal or conservative news source. Conservatives denounced the paper as liberal trash but liberals seemed equally unwilling to accept association with the paper.

I picked the next article from the Los Angeles Times because i wanted to see how a paper focused on the issue from a local perspective would interpret what was happening in Washington. Unlike the other papers, they focus on how the budget cuts negatively affect the Californian Economy.

This paper starts off by arguing that these budget cuts take away from necessarily programs within California. Interesting enough they then quote Mike Genest, who is a self proclaimed "tea party-er", that argues that programs cuts were necessary and that people have to stop spending more than they have. Even after quoting democrat Mark Leno who has the opposite viewpoint, they close the article by saying "What Californians — all Americans — need is an honest debate over which services we want to pay for and how do we go about it. And the answer is not mindless borrowing".

I truly expected an article from the LA times to be against a program that cut off funding but this article seemed support just that. Then again, The La times is not really locally based if you think about it. The Times is owned by the Tribune Company which is the 2nd largest newspaper conglomerate in the U.S. Whether or not the times is influenced heavily by their ownership is hard to say, but it was definitely surprising to see paper from LA to be in favor of a bill that could exacerbate their state deficit. (4)

The last article I read was from a paper called the Christian Post. Honestly I picked this out because i expected this to be noticeably conservative and for the budget cuts. However this was not the case. Surprisingly, the article merely systematically listed the goals of each political party and stated whether or not they achieved their goal. Weirdly enough, the Christian Post read as the least bias news source of those mentioned(5).


1 comment:

  1. I chose to do the assignment on the recent budget cuts as well. As you mentioned, the cuts "spurred a number of polarized reports". It was precisely this polarization that motivated me to write about it. I believed that it would be a perfect topic to explore media biases, particularly political ones.
    I came to similar conclusions as you did about The New York Times coming off as liberal and USA Today seeming quite centrist. It was interesting for me to become aware of the liberal slant of The New York Times. I usually agree with what they say, so I tend to not realize their bias. However the slant becomes more noticeable once compared to other news sources. I did not find, as you did, that the BBC was biased at all. As a matter of fact I saw it to be quite objective. However I did not read the same article as you.