Home > Uncategorized > Media Research: The Truth Behind The House of Representative’s Vote

Media Research: The Truth Behind The House of Representative’s Vote

The Internet has grown into the forum of expression for the general public, and it is one of the quickest ways to get a message across. As the textbook states, “In a world of eye-catching multimedia, flashy graphics, and media saturation, it would seem that gray, boring, and quiet print media will take a backseat.” (Pavlik 131). This holds true, especially when one considers all of the alternative media outlets that one can find on the web. In some cases, the alternative media presents a different viewpoint on a story that has been told numerous times through mainstream media. In looking at news from multiple perspectives, the true story reveals itself, and certain biases will no longer cloud the real story.

The mainstream news source that was examined for this paper was AOLnews. AOL is a division of Time Warner, and it is also part the stock market and publicly owned. Also, AOLnews is partners with numerous other news outlets that are both mainstream and alternative outlets.  AOL started off as an e-mail and Internet provider, and has kept growing and diversifying ever since. One  reason why AOLnews is classified as a mainstream news source is because the target audience it tries to reach. The typical AOL consumer, as stated on the AOL corporation website,  is innovative, unique, and creative. The graphics to the site cater to a more artistic and hip customer, and they have many offerings other than just news.

As mentioned earlier, AOL has expanded from an Internet provider to a company that has instant message, e-mail, news, movies, and music. AOL is user-friendly, and people of all ages and educational backgrounds use it. Due to its multi-faceted design and the many services that AOL offers, it has become a mainstream news site that receives numerous hits every day.

In contrast to the mega-hit news source, AOL, the alternative news outlet Truthout, has a different background. According to truth-out.org, Truthout is a nonprofit organization that provides daily news. They are not owned by anyone, and therefore rely on the followers of Truthout to support and fund their site. This independent news source has been around for less time than AOLnews.  As of 2010, the hits to the website are over 500,000 people, and that number is still growing. The ratio of male to female readers is pretty much equal according to the annual report supplied by Truthout.

Unlike some news media outlets that would be considered mainstream, Truthout’s mission is, “devoted to equality, democracy, human rights, accountability, and social justice. We believe in the power of free speech, and know that democratic journalism can make the world a better place.” Instead of targeting the mass population like some mainstream media outlets, Truthout focuses on the story, and prides itself on uncovering the truth.

The textbook outlines the functions of Newspapers in Chapter four, and many of these functions apply  to the online media outlets that are being examined. The concept of journalism as a surveillance function holds accurate for both Truthout and AOLnews in that they provide information about issues and events that are prevalent to society. Also, Truthout plays a large role in correlation because Truthout interprets the story and presents it to the public. AOLnews does the same, but the difference is in how the individuals reading the news digest the story.  Finally, the alternative outlet, Truthout, and the mainstream news source, AOLnews, play a role as the fourth branch of government. It is really important for the government’s actions to be told to the general public. The media acts as an additional check and balance for the government, and it holds all of the other three branches accountable for their actions. The stories that will be analyzed for the paper demonstrate how important the role of journalists checking and telling about the government’s actions is for the future of the United States of America.

This past week the United States House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that reduces government spending. According to the story on CNN.com, the bill passed with a 235-189 vote. Currently the Republican party does hold the majority of the votes in the House of Representatives. The bill cuts $60 billion dollars from the government agencies. Although cutting spending may seem like a good idea to some, others have great issues with the cuts. This is largely in part because the spending that is being slashed directly benefits many American citizens. The bill has not been put into law, and the Senate still needs to vote on the bill. This event has earned a lot of press the past few days, and both mainstream and independent news outlets are covering the story.

AOLNews broke the story February 19th, and focused on one of the institutions that is majorly impacted by the bill. Planned Parenthood will lose $75 million in funding if the bill becomes a law. Also, Title X, which also funds healthcare for citizens will be losing $317 million. This money goes towards paying for birth control, screaning and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy testing and treatment, cancer screenings, sex education, and vasectomies. The article states, “When it comes to family planning, apparently the ability to decide whether or when to have a child isn’t part of the Republican family values.” This is clearly a critique of the Republican Party, and it immediately shows the journalist’s bias. Sandra Fish, the author of the article found on AOLNews, legitimizes her argument in support of Planned Parenthood by using a personal story. Although the bias of the author is clear, the article is not lacking in factual support.

Since the bill does cut funding for Planned Parenthood, one might suspect pro-life support is one of the reasons why the bill passed. However, not all might realize that Planned Parenthood is not allowed to use government funds to pay for abortions. In fact, no government funds my ever be spent on abortions, unless, as stated in the article, “in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.” This article questions the motives of the Republican Party by demonstrating over and over what an excellent resource Planned Parenthood is, and how much it aids American families.

Although the story on Truthout provides much of the same information, the article leaves a different impact than that of the one left after reading the story on AOLnews. Truthout published the story February 18th. This story focuses on the mission of the Republican Party from the time that they received the majority of the votes in the House. The article states that they, “have been focused like a lazer beam on one thing: eliminating access for women and in fact all people to have affordable health care, and particularly  to reproductive and sexual health care.” The article continues to demonstrate how the male representatives are setting ut against female citizens. However, it does not stop by just stating the problem; it provides a potential solution. The article includes a video from the head of Planned Parenthood which asks for the support of the public. This video holds a lot of power and adds credibility to the story because it is not a personal account, but a message from the source. The article states how there are supporters of the bill in the Senate, and that without extreme persuasion, the bill may become a law. It does not focus on the services provided through Planned Parenthood to citizens through text. However, there is a picture that accompanies the story does show the abundance of medications and treatments that Planned Parenthood does offer.

Screen Shot of Facebook's event in support of Planned Parenthood

The issue is still ongoing, and more and more news articles will appear before a conclusion is reached. There is large group of supporters who are uniting to fight for the rights of Planned Parenthood. However, as both articles show, there is always opposition. The story presented by Truthout shows the event as more of an attack on women’s rights, and it does not state what else is being cut in the spending bill. However, it does emphasize the sentiments felt by Planned Parenthood, and it makes suggestions for the future. On the other hand, AOLnews is using this occurrence to inform the public, and potentially get them to side with Planned Parenthood in a more indirect way. Both articles they take the opportunity given to them to tell a story, and share the news to the American public, which is a major function of journalism today.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 24, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    -Try to be more concise with your sentences
    For example: This independent news source has been around for less time than AOLnews.
    Fiddle around with sentences just like this to make the paper have an easier flow for the viewer.
    -Good use of support from the textbook as well as other new source links.

  2. February 24, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    -Try to be more concise with your sentences
    For example: This independent news source has been around for less time than AOLnews.
    Fiddle around with sentences just like this to make the paper have an easier flow for the viewer.
    -Good use of support from the textbook as well as other new source links.

  3. February 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Nice paper, and very good use of class material. I think it would be beneficial for you to read the paper out loud to yourself a couple of times because it is a bit choppy, but very good content!

  4. March 2, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Very good start, and very complete information. i think you’ve done a great job analyzing the differing frames provided by the two news sources.

    There are a few small things to do to improve upon this article, as noted by your colleagues above. Also, watch out that your claims are supported. For instance, how do you know that the “typical” AOL news reader is “innovative and creative?” Please offer a cite for that.

    Good work!

  5. March 10, 2011 at 4:23 am

    Very thorough and well written, as always. The revisions help the flow, too. Good work!

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