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Bias Media Coverage

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Media publications can manipulate the news using a variety of strategies that can alter the readers' perception. Publications can navigate their audience through what it feels is potent and viable concerning a specific topic. The factors that can contribute toward an altered point of view are the publication's audience, their lifestyle, interests, and its level of sophistication. But, there are more contingent variables that create a divergent representation of objective truth. Such catalysts include manipulation of the text through diction, tone and the articles' actual credibility. Through this, the media has the power to persuade its audience's point of view.

There are two articles that can serve as an archetype for this notion. Both The Miami Herald and The St. Petersburg Times discuss a recent controversial issue concerning gay adoption in the state of Florida. In 1977 the state passed a statue prohibiting homosexual men and women from adopting children. Florida, Mississippi and Utah are currently the only states that do not legalize any form of adoption by same sex coupled parents. Then in 1999, lawsuits were filed by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in the interest of various gay couples whose desire was to become adoptive parents but were restricted by the law. After months of heated debates in Florida's U.S. District court, on Thursday August 30 Judge James Lawrence King ruled in favor of the state's ban on homosexual adoption. The decision caused a variety of feelings. These contrasting sentiments are evident in the press' misappropriation of the news in both articles.

After examining "The Miami Herald" article, one can note that the article pleads to the reader's emotions by conveying a message that men and women with homosexual tendencies are being unjustly discriminated against. It is clear that this article speaks to a relatively liberal audience, which includes a very active gay community. Due to the fact that Miami is populated with a plethora of divergent opinions and behaviors, it is no surprise that the city's major publication would take such a supportive stance towards the gay community. In referring to specific individuals, such as Judge Lawrence, and their views, the journalist used phrases such as, "the now apologetic lawmaker"; statements such as these portray the publications intent to convince the reader that these authority figures sympathize with their cause. The article goes as far as to say that the judge was "handcuffed by the law," which insinuates that his decision was not the right one but the only one. Although the articles content is fairly controversial because it pleads to a general audience for support, its level of diction and its style are feasible for an uneducated individual.

Throughout the article from The Miami Herald, Green, the creator of this work, enables the reader to feel present during the case that is being deliberated. When present in a courtroom environment, one is subjected to the arguments and views of both the prosecution and the defense. The author formatted it to give off this sensation, which creates a more personable atmosphere, so the reader is compelled to believe what he is being told. The use of quotes from both sides fully presents the case but nonetheless stresses the point that gay men and lesbians have the right to be suitable adoptive parents. When the article states that, "...King rejected the idea that moral disapproval of homosexuals 'serves a legitimate state interest,' " it demonstrates that regardless of personal belief homosexuals should not be held to a different standard by the law. Green stresses on the fact that the plaintiffs had no other evident choice on how to present their case, "they could either attempt to prove gay men and lesbians were good parents-which could legitimize stereotypes if only by arguing against them-or else they could lose the case in court."

The article also takes a political stance by using mayoral candidate, Elaine Bloom, to support its reasoning. Bloom is running in the upcoming election for mayor of Miami Beach, an area that is noted as being the forefront for gay couples. Like King, Bloom, once a state representative, contributed to the existence of the 1977 ban on gay adoptions. She now expresses regret toward the decision she says was inspired by "the hysteria of Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade of the 1970s..." Bloom now has personal reasons to support homosexual adoption; because her son David is a gay resident of Miami, who raises a two-year old son with his same sex partner. Bloom's new perspective on this law is also beneficial to her political campaign since her constituents who are predominantly gay men and lesbians have a strong interest in this suit.

The Miami Herald article will again and again make the statement that homosexuals are not morally unfit adoptive parents but that the law did not allow room for a different ruling. It is mentioned that this recent decision does not provide closure to this case, in fact the ACLU is still fighting for what it believes has not been proven untrue in the courts-"...that gay men and lesbians can and do provide a healthy child-rearing environment."




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