I'll Have a News Report, Extra Objectivity, Hold the Spin Please

Prairie Gleanings

The Supreme Court ruling on Roundup Ready alfalfa seemed easy enough to report.

Published on: June 30, 2010

Last week, you probably saw the news about Roundup Ready alfalfa. Most of the news releases that hit my inbox essentially said the Supreme Court had overturned the lower courts decision and further analysis was needed on USDA’s part to certify the product for commercial use.

I say most of the releases, because one in particular came with a sub-head that stated “High Court Delivers Ruling That Leaves Ban on Planting of Roundup Ready Alfalfa in Place in First-Ever Case on a Genetically-engineered Crop.” It was from the Center for Food Safety.

After digging into the CFS release a bit, it does say that the Supreme Court overturned the ban on RR alfalfa. However, it goes on to say that RR alfalfa is banned. More reading reveals that CFS is backing up its banned wording on the fact that commercialized RR alfalfa is contingent on further testing and work with the USDA.

Confused? I was too. After comparing the facts, it seems CFS is attempting to spin the ruling in it’s favor (i.e. banning RR alfalfa). We live in a society that increasingly only reads the headlines and photo captions. While I do place some blame on media consumers’ laziness, this “spinning” of news is getting out of hand.

In the grand scheme of things, CFS’ release is a fairly minor example of spin. The ones that really make me mad can be found in more mainstream outlets, such as the big weekly news magazines. I’m still frustrated with Time’s burger trash article.

A more recent example is President Obama's firing of General Stanley McChrystal for his comments to the Rolling Stone. I read several accounts in major news outlets that involved a heavy amount of opinion on the topic. The sources were quick to praise him for a "strong" approach to insubordination. That seems quite subjective. I would have liked to read a simple report about what happened, case closed. Let me make up my own mind on the president's actions.

I hope one of these days folks stop craving sensationalism and start hungering for good ole fashioned objectivity. Until then, maybe more people will begin to see the obvious bias that has infiltrated so many of our daily news sources.

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