Getting the Bias Out of Leads
News stories should be objective. Yet often, the choice of words that are used in a story tends to coor the story and give a slanted view. Below are two versions of the same story. Read both of them; then, answer the questions below in your NB.
1. Gayle Robinson, seventeen year old daughter of Samuel Robinson, disappeared from her home five days ago.
Miss Robinson left no note, but she did take a suitcase and some clothing. According to her distraught parents, the girl had about twenty dollars when she left. Last night Mr. Robinson asked the police for assistance in finding his daughter.
Mr. Robinson is a candidate for the City Council. He is scheduled to speak tonight at a Teenagers in Politics meeting and expects to be there, indicating that while there was little he could do at the moment for daughter, there might be much he could do to inform other young adults of their political rights and responsibilities.
2. Last night several detectives talked to Samuel Robinson, a candidate for the City Council, about the sudden and strange disappearance of his seventeen year old daughter Gayle, who dropped out of sight five days ago. In her closet are dozens of skirts and designer jeans. The girlís bank account was untouched; as was the "piggy bank," actually a Raggedy Ann, in which she has collected pennies and nickels since she was a little girl.
Today the Robinson home is a restless, unhappy place. A friend of the missing girl whispered something about a quarrel between Gayle and her father. Gayleís twelve year old brother Charles is lonely, and Mrs. Robinsonís eyes are red from crying. Mr. Robinson is scheduled to speak tonight at a political rally. When asked if he would keep the engagement, Mr. Robinson said emotionlessly, "Of course Iíll keep it."
1. What are the difference between the leads in these stories?
2. How do the choice of words differ in the two stories?
3. What facts are emphasized in each story?
4. What is the underlying apparent purpose in each story?
5. Rewrite the story as best you can to have no bias, follow the inverted pyramid format, and to stick to facts.