I've often said, the bias of a journalist or a news operation is not necessarily how they cover a story, but what stories they don't.
When a newsroom is staffed with people who share similar perspectives on life, politics, and religion, these people will often fail to see the newsorthiness of certain topics while devoting massive coverage to others.
It's why you want a diverse newsroom. And by diverse I mean more than just racially.
Here is an exchange I had with journalist Mark Binker on Twitter yesterday. Binker works at WRAL, a Raleigh TV station, where he does a lot of legislative reporting.
As I covered the other day in this blog post, NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, publicly declared opposition to the voter ID law passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed by the Republican Governor.
Cooper indicates he intends to run for Governor against Pat McCrory in 2016.
Cooper had asked the governor not to sign the voting bill, calling it “regressive” and saying the new requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls is “unnecessary, expensive and burdensome.” His comments were cited in the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit filed Monday.
Cooper also sent out a fundraising e-mail highlighting his opposition to the law, and launched an online petition urging the Governor to veto it.
These actions led the Governor and the GOP leaders in the General Assembly to hire their own attorneys because they don't trust the AG or his office to represent the state adequately.
WRAL's Binker doesn't see a problem with Cooper's actions, however.
@PeteKaliner If I believed he was doing that, no.— mark binker (@binker) October 7, 2013
In an op-ed yesterday, former NC Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr outlined why the Republicans are right to be suspicious about the representation Cooper's office could provide.
Any criticism of Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to hire outside legal counsel in the litigation over the voter ID legislation is not only wrong but reflects a lack of understanding of the duties a lawyer owes to his client.
The attorney-client relationship demands candor and trust between the client – in this case the governor – and his attorneys.
In defending the voter ID litigation, a straightforward, honest conversation between the governor and his attorneys is necessary to determine the legal strategy for handling the lawsuit. The attorney general’s actions undoubtedly interfere with the mutual trust that is necessary to litigate this case.
As I said earlier, journalistic bias is often found in which stories don't get covered because the reporter believes the issue isn't newsworthy.
In this case, Binker doesn't believe Cooper has jeopardized the State's defense of the voter ID law. So, his sarcasm gets directed towards the GOP for raising the issue, and he dismisses the issue.
Bias isn't always how a story gets covered. It's what doesn't get covered at all.