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Home > Publications > Quill > Sigma Delta Chi Awards Winners - Research


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Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Sigma Delta Chi Awards Winners - Research

By Scott Leadingham

Click here for introduction to the awards and a menu of all categories.

Research About Journalism

Winner: John H. McManus

“Detecting Bull: How to Identify Bias and Junk Journalism in Print, Broadcast and on the Wild Web” Published by The Unvarnished Press

Author John H. McManus notes that the book began in 2000 in his home and eventually migrated to Stanford and San Jose State universities. Six years of background research later, the book took shape from McManus’ “Grade the News” website funded by the Knight and Ford foundations.

In introducing his book to judges, McManus wrote the following:

“With this foundation, the book proposes a bias detector — a set of questions — designed to reveal bias in any kind of news account in any medium. Examples, not only of partisan bias, but also of excellent empirical journalism, are abundant. The book encourages skepticism rather than cynicism about journalism. While the book empowers an analysis of bias in individual stories, it recognizes that all news accounts are partial. Thus it provides a method of looking for patterns of bias across samples of articles.”

The book’s introduction posits that news literacy is an integral component in strengthening our “bias-detection skills”:

We desperately need a civic revival in this country. This slim volume aims to support it by a news literacy toolkit: a scalpel, tweezers and specimen tray for dissecting content that purports to be news. The critical habits of mind described here empower civic renewal by helping citizens trawl the tsunami of content offered as news to find reliable reports and allowing citizen to hold news providers accountable to the standards journalists themselves profess.”

More online: tinyurl.com/SDXResearch

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