by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, June 22, 2006
A good friend of mine reminded me on a recent Sunday morning that all newspapers are biased. She said this in response to some snarky comment I made about how incredibly biased the Albuquerque Journal is while thumbing through said daily. I paused. I took a little offense (not I, said the ego-ridden news editor). And then I realized she was right. All newspapers, no matter how much we try, are always at least a little biased. We're human, not news-writing cyborgs.
Still, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try our damnedest to be as fair and unbiased as possible. When publications shirk their duty, it's the job of the rest of us to say something about it. Hence, I return to the above mentioned Albuquerque Journal, who published such an incredibly biased string of papers last week that it nearly makes me want to hurl. Here's what they served up.
FDA and HPV
June 8 marked a momentous moment in medical history—the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, aka the cervical cancer vaccine, was approved by the FDA [News Bite, “The World’s First Cervical Cancer Vaccine,” June 15-21]. HPV is the sole causative agent for cervical cancer. The most common sexually transmitted disease, it can’t always be protected against with condoms. In addition, 80 percent of all women will contract a strain of HPV by the time they’re 50. More than 250,000 women worldwide die from cervical cancer every year.
A vaccine for such a disease will be written into history books. And much of the research for the vaccine was completed by Professor Cosette Wheeler and her research team from the University of New Mexico.
So where was the reporting from the Journal? If you looked closely, you might have caught it. A sixth of a page Associated Press article buried in the A section on June 9, which didn’t even bother explaining the social significance behind the vaccine.
Last Saturday, June 10, thousands of people marched along Central from UNM to the State Fairgrounds in celebration of the 30 th anniversary of the Gay Pride festival. There were floats, there was chanting, there was Gov. Bill Richardson, who showed up for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Where was the Journal? There was absolutely no coverage of the event in the following Sunday paper, or any paper thereafter. They did, however, manage to make room for a delightful piece in the A section that day on how Paris Hilton dinked a Honda Civic with her Range Rover. Whoo-hoo!
Hear Heather Rejoice
The Journal used up a ridiculous amount of ink celebrating President Bush coming to town last week to fundraise for Rep. Heather Wilson. The paper worked in two above-the-fold stories: “Wilson Thrilled Bush Is In Town,” (gee, that’s a winning headline) on Friday, June 16, the day Dubya arrived; and another fluff piece the following day, devoting a giant photo and header to how much money the two raised, shafting the story of the giant protest outside the fundraiser to a considerably smaller place below the fold.