Let’s play "Spot the Bias"

If there’s one thing this election year has shown, it’s the blatant bias of the media coverage of the candidates. And not just at the national level, but more specifically in The Roanoke Times. Let’s do a little comparison.

First things first, if you weren’t aware of it, Gov. Sarah Palin will be visiting the Roanoke Valley today, speaking at the Salem Football Stadium. More information, including obtaining the necessary tickets, can be found at here. The event was originally scheduled to be at the Salem Civic Center, but because organizers have had such an overwhelming response, the event has been moved to the Salem Football Stadium.

So what’s this about The Roanoke Times being biased? Glad you asked. Before we get to that, let’s go back in time a few weeks to October 17, 2008. Barack Obama was coming to the Roanoke Civic Center to speak to a crowd of over 8,000. In preparation, The Roanoke Times included on its front page a little blurb about the candidate along with a very nice bulleted list of the details of the event – where to go, when to go, admission (free), what to do about parking, where to catch a shuttle bus, etc. All at the top of the page or, as they say in the newspaper industry, “above the fold.” (“Above the fold” is important since coin operated racks have a folded copy in the door and anything below that fold cannot be seen, and thus will not be likely to drive sales).

Fast forward to today. You’re walking down the street and, hearing that Palin is coming, you want some information. Ah, look, there’s a Roanoke Times rack. Surely the newspaper would have some information on it, right? Before plopping your $0.50 in, you glance at the front page. Hmm, there’s nothing there about Palin! Just some article about local high school sports teams dealing with tough travel schedules. Surely, with such a huge event (estimated to draw a crowd larger than the Obama rally!), the Times would want to capitalize on the need for information, right? After all, their stated purpose is to be the leader in local information, right? [deafening silence]

Okay, well, you decide to purchase the paper anyway. Oh look, at the bottom of the page, there actually is a small piece about Palin’s visit. It says to check in the Virginia section (the middle section of the paper). Nothing about what time, where to park or anything on the front page. Turning to the Virginia section, you finally find the necessary information. Well, almost. There’s an article about all the prep work needed for moving the event to the stadium, with an underlying hint that the article is more about pointing out the inconvenience to all the vendors for having it moved than anything else. Oh and the local Democrats have to have their say that “Palin’s visit ‘is too little, too late.’” So where’s the event information?!? Oh wait, there it is. If you go: A shuttle bus to take people to the Salem Stadium for the Sarah Palin rally will begin running at 10 a.m. today at the Plaza of Roanoke-Salem at 4100 Melrose Ave in Northwest Roanoke. Parking also is available at the stadium and at the Salem Civic Center. The gates open at 3:30 p.m. The even begins at 5:30 p.m.

That’s it.

No mention of the fact that tickets are needed and where they can be obtained. No nicely bulleted, easy-to-read list. No blurb about the candidate. Even WSLS has better information.

Hmm, nope, no bias here.

I can’t wait to see the newspaper’s coverage (or lack of) tomorrow.

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