I roll my eyes at most charges of media bias. I used to be a journalist, so I recognize that a lot of complaints about bias and unfairness simply boil down to people not liking it that reporters don’t tell stories from whatever point of view they happen to agree with. But every now and then, serious examples of unfair journalism jump out at me.
Michael Strong sent me a story Friday in which the public radio show Marketplace talked about the idea of free economic zones existing inside countries that have draconian rules otherwise. (I’ve talked before about developments leading toward free cities, so take a look here, here and here if you haven’t seen them.) It was nice to see the idea of free economic zones at least be mentioned in a news story — because it’s frequently ignored — but I want to point out two things. Once you’ve read the story, tell me which parts stand out starkly as not fitting the rest.
First, there’s the headline, which isn’t supported in the story at all: “Separate and unequal economies in the Arab world.” Unless you live under a rock, it’s very, very clear what the headline writer is trying to imply. He’s trying to invoke the Jim Crow world of “separate but equal” when it comes to schools and public facilities in the United States. Although the story has nothing to do with that — and it’s a very dishonest characterization of the situation — the headline writer has clearly decided to express his disapproval by disdainfully making it clear that what’s going on is just as wrong as forcing black Americans to drink from different water fountains.