San Diego Media Ponders Question of Bias in Presidential Race Coverage

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Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump listens as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton answers a question from the audience during their presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

By Rick Griffin

Has the mainstream press played fair in this year’s presidential politics? Have reporters been balanced and objective in covering both Hillary Clinton’s access to classified documents on an unsecure private server as well as Donald Trump’s disparaging demeanor? Has there been a double-standard disparity when reporting stories about both WikiLeaks and womanizing?

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What should we think when New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich is accused of allowing Clinton Communications Director Jen Palmieri to pick and choose which Clinton quotes to use in an article? Why do some people believe the news media is anti-Trump, anti-conservative and even that some journalists are just Clinton campaign workers in disguise?

A recent New York Times article noted how recent criticism of the news media is resonating with a larger portion of the American electorate during this current election cycle. Jim Rutenberg wrote, “Reporters can make mistakes, become overly chummy with sources and fall into traps that give the campaigns too much power over their reporting.”

Local leaders in the journalism community recently offered their viewpoints about a biased news media and if the system is rigged.

Mark Larson, TV political commentator with Fox News Channel and KUSI-TV and radio talk show on KCBQ 1170-AM:

“I cannot recall such unvarnished, blatant, in-your-face bias, especially in national `mainstream’ media. They used to attempt to camouflage it, but no more. It’s one thing to do clearly noted commentary, as we do in talk radio or in an op-ed page or editorial in a newspaper. It’s quite another thing to be delivering `the news’ and pretending you’re impartial.

April Harter-Enriquez, San Diego Press Club 2016 president, WordPop PR:

“Yes, double standards and unbalanced opinions have revealed themselves in mainstream media throughout this election, but we must also take responsibly as consumers as we are the curators and editors of our own news content. We feed our bias by subscribing, opting in and following news organizations when and where we want. I receive much of my election coverage via mainstream media after it has been shared on Facebook, often with a snarky, and at times, heartbreaking comment from a friend or colleague. It’s up to me to immerse myself in a diverse network of individuals and seek perspectives beyond my network.”

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J.W. August, board member, Society for Professional Journalists, San Diego Chapter, NBC 7 San Diego producer:

“The media doesn’t always get it right but they try. Most journalists I know work hard to get it right every time. Still, mistakes happen, personal prejudice creeps into our thinking, we develop relationships with the people we cover, good, bad and indifferent. We are human. But, as a group, we strive to find the truth. This is not the first time journalism has been attacked in our country and it will not be the last. Our role remains to ignore the howls of the mob and report to the best of our abilities on what is right and what is wrong.”

Bey-Ling Sha, professor and director, School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University:

“Research shows that people tend to selectively pay attention to news media that support their own previously held views, and they think that all other media are `biased.’ So, the real issue is not so much media bias; it’s more people being unwilling to consider viewpoints different from their own.”

Dean Nelson, founder and director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University:

“I do not think there is a left-wing bias in the news coverage from mainstream news media. I also don’t believe there is such a thing as objectivity. Those who long for the good old days when the news media were objective have suffered from some kind of delusion about those days. They never existed. I do not think the mainstream news media have shown political bias in this election coverage. The editorial pages have taken sides, which is normal. But I don’t think the news coverage has taken sides.”

Matthew Hall, national board member of Society of Professional Journalists, Region 11, editorial and opinion director, San Diego Union-Tribune:

“I’m sure there will always be people who think the media is biased, but in my opinion that misses two key points, that there is no monolithic media and that most reporters are fully aware that this perception exists in some circles so they go out of their way to be as unbiased, as fair, as thorough and as balanced as possible. In this day and age of social media, our reputations are on the line literally minute by minute. One thing that I hope emerges from this election cycle is a realization among journalists that we need to increase people’s media literacy and show and tell our readers, viewers and consumers that we are here for them, for the public, for democracy. That a strong press leads to good government, and that if calling out politicians more often is a part of journalism and suffering the slings and arrows from critics is a part of that, I personally am OK with it. The members of the press that I know have a bias toward the truth, period.”

Health Care Communicators Presented Finest Awards

Health Care Communicators of San Diego (HCCSD) recently presented its 2016 Finest Awards. First-, second- and third-place awards were presented in 29 categories, including advertising, PR, writing, collateral, video, special events, digital marketing and analytics.

Scripps Health won 13 awards, AMN Healthcare and Palomar Health each received seven awards, Rady Children’s Hospital, Sharp Healthcare and UC San Diego Health System won three awards, Porter Novelli won two awards and Sharp Grossmont Hospital, North County Health Services and The Elizabeth Hospice each earned one award.

Dawn Anderson

Dawn Anderson, vice president, AMN Healthcare, was named Communicator of the Year. HCCSD said Anderson was selected for improving communications between marketing, sales and proposal teams at the company, along with creating a corporate SEO strategy and overseeing communications for nine acquisitions during the past two years.

The Best in Show award went to AMN Healthcare for its 2015 Survey of Registered Nurses Multi-Channel Digital Campaign. Entrants included health care providers and companies, public health agencies and marketing firms. A complete list of winners can be found at www.hccsdfinest.org.

Also at the event, a $2,000 scholarship was presented to Lauren Haneke-Hopps, a recent graduate from Patrick Henry High School who is now attending University of Alabama studying the field of kinesiology. The scholarship recognizes one deserving San Diego County student each year who is interested in pursuing a career in health care.

HCCSD is a professional networking group for communications professionals who work in the health care, wellness, biotech, medical device, health information technology and pharmaceutical industries.

Nuffer, Smith, Tucker Announces New Binational Clients

Nuffer, Smith, Tucker, a San Diego PR firm now in its 42 year in business, has announced four new bi-national clients. They include: Farmacias Roma, a Baja California-based pharmacy chain; JD Group, an international customs and logistics brokerage firm; Bluebox, a Latin American business incubator, accelerator and corporate investment funding network; and Grupo DAR, an automotive aftermarket distributor of world-class chassis parts.

Bill Trumpfheller, president of the PR firm, said “A true bi-national communications strategy means more than just translating our services. It takes a concerted effort to understand the diverse audiences your clients are looking to reach, and the cultural and business environment in which they’re operating. As our relationships with and capabilities on behalf of our bi-national clients have grown, we saw that it was time for us to not only talk the talk of a coordinated bi-national region, but to walk the walk and be a truly bi-national company helping clients who want to expand their bi-national presence.”

L7 Creative Selected as Top 20 Digital Agency

L7 Creative, a Carlsbad-based digital brand engagement agency, has been named a top 20 digital agency in San Diego by Expertise, a Seattle-based business ratings and resource organization.

L7 said Expertise reviewed 313 agencies in San Diego as part of its search. Judging criteria was based on credibility, reputation and experience. Agencies with a history of dissatisfied customers were flagged and removed.

Founded in 2001, L7, also has an office in Boston.


Rick Griffin

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.

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