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Task 2

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  • 1. Task 2 Should factual products contain bias? I think that factual products should not contain bias, as they are meant to issue content that is strictly non-fictitious and for it to contain any sense of „opinion‟, would make the purpose of the factual product completely irrelevant. It is known that the content posed by tabloid publications has caused public uproar in the past, as a newspaper is supposed to produce content that is accurate, with no blatant political leaning; however, this rule is not always continuous. In 2011, the Daily Mirror, a right-wing publication, published a news story regarding the controversial comedian, Frankie Boyle. The article claimed that the ex-Mock the Week regular was “racist”. Boyle hit back at these claims by stating on Twitter that “racism is still a very serious problem” and that he is “anti-racist”. Boyle received £54,000 in damages against the slander that was specifically targeted towards him. This shows that an institution that is supposed to produce factual content, has issued a mere claim and have fabricated it into a story in the „interest of the public‟, which is a statement that various publications utilise as a „safety barrier‟ in a way, to prevent them from having legal woes. This particular story is a prime example of why factual products should not contain bias, as the journalist who wrote the article may harbour strong opinions themselves, which could have hindered the outlook of the story that was based around the Glaswegian comedian. It is clear that Boyle has faced public backlash in the past for the comedy in which he has produced, however, when it is displayed in an apparent „factual‟ publication, it becomes a different matter, as the public profile of the individual involved could be permanently damaged, which is why no sense of bias should be included within any type of periodical, as it could defame the part involved and initially tarnish their career from a mere false claim.
  • 2. Furthermore, other published content that is factual, can also contain an element of bias within it, such as animal rights leaflets, that are highly likely to feature content that could be powerful enough to sway the opinion of the audience. As an example, PETA are renowned for their support of faux fur in the fashion industry, as opposed to the real counterpart. The global movement issued a campaign poster with the simple, yet effective slogan “Three Good Reasons Not to Buy Fur”, which was linked to the main, focal image on the product being three raccoons. This is a clever marketing technique, as the viewer will see the „innocent‟ looking animals and will feel obliged to join the movement in order to „stand up‟ against the regime and protect these creatures. It is clear that this poster is a prime example of the term “a picture is worth a thousand words”, as the consumer will feel solemn upon viewing this emotive piece. The product as a whole is bias and one-sided, but it is like that for a purpose, as the creators of this moving material, firmly pioneer animal rights and desire to get their opinion out in the public domain. This specific product compares to the Frankie Boyle controversy, as they both contain bias within them, where the curator of each of the pieces have displayed their argument over the subject matter, but it is up to the audience member to determine their own view on the differentiating topics, or they may also be subliminally convinced to agree with the view that is being presented to them, if they do not have an established opinion already. I would say that this piece is more biased than factual, however, it is promoting a good cause and valid point, therefore, it would be deemed as „correct‟ in a sense, to the primary viewer of the humanitarian-based product.
  • 3. In conclusion, the debate regarding whether factual products should contain bias or not is simply open-ended, as it would be difficult to monitor the views of the author of a specific product, as they may subliminally input their opinions into their work without realising. However, I do think that in newspaper publications, the journalist should refrain from expressing their personal views and focus mainly on the task at hand, to produce a news story that is informative with full of factual information, as opposed to a piece that could be seen as a „personal rant‟ so to speak. The Frankie Boyle controversy regarding „The Daily Mirror‟ was an example of a published piece that contained false information, which led to a court case. It is vital that the journalist follows the Editors Code and does not rally against the clauses posed by the edict itself, such as Clause 1 (Accuracy), which was ignored in this specific case. On the other hand, I think that it would be acceptable for a charity campaign document to have a slight sense of bias included into it, as if it did not have this element embedded within it, the whole campaign would not be effective, as the emotive, persuasive language that is used (such as in the PETA poster) makes the poster stand out and individuals will view this and may be convinced to take action against the injustice posed by the content of the poster. Charity organisations need to use this technique in order to gain awareness for their specific cause and to get people to show support for their organisation overall. However, a factual sense should also be included within the products as well, due to the fact that it has to be informative in order for the public to take notice of it and for it to be deemed as a „factual document‟, not just a piece of propaganda. Including facts and statistics into charity poster/leaflet products make them seem more effective in the long run anyway, as the consumer will view this content and will deem the product as more „believable‟ in a sense, therefore, they will feel more obliged to join the cause themselves.