Burriss: Is Facebook slanted?

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By Former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite once said he knew he was doing a good job if everyone was mad at him. So I guess since everyone is mad at the media, they must be doing a good job.

Now, let's be very clear: all media forms and outlets have a particular editorial viewpoint, and all media managers make choices as to which stories to run, and how those stories are to be played.

So it was with a sense of déjà vu I've been following the latest contretemps about how Facebook edits, or, if you choose, manipulates, the news. And which word you use, "edits" or "manipulates" tells me a lot about you and your views about the on-line service.

But here's how convoluted the issue is: First, a U.S. senator sent a letter to Facebook executives asking how stories are edited. Then "The New York Times" wrote about the letter, and in one paragraph used the word "demanded" but in another paragraph used the word "asked."

Meanwhile, the conservative blog Punchingbagpost ran a headline saying "Senate Investigates," which I take to mean a full-scale investigation with a committee and hearings. But I don't know if a letter is the same thing as a real investigation.

Four paragraphs into the newspaper article the writer begins to talk about First Amendment concerns. The Punching-bagpost story makes no mention of the First Amendment.

So right away we can see bias in both a liberal and a conservative media outlet.

As for the alleged Congressional investigation of the media, well, it wouldn't be the first time. Over the years Congress has conducted formal investigations of quiz shows, violence and news programs. In fact the first Congressional investigation of a newspaper goes all the way back to 1779.

Is news presentation on Facebook slanted? Of course! But does it really make a difference?

Of course not!

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Larry Burriss
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