WBAY Pushes False Narrative on School Choice & Education Budget

WBAY ABC 2
Green Bay
Pushes False
Narrative on
School Choice &
Education Budget
6-30-15 @ 6 p.m.

Bias by Commission, Bias by Selection of Sources, Bias by Spin

Bias by Commission is a pattern of passing along assumptions or errors through a narrative that tends to support a left-wing or liberal view.

Bias by Selection of Sources occurs when a reporter includes more sources in a story who support one view over another.

Bias by Spin is when reporters emphasize aspects of a policy or a report favorable to liberals, without noting aspects favorable to conservatives; or, putting out the liberal interpretation of an event; while giving little or no time to its conservative interpretation.

In its June 30, 2015 6 p.m. report on Wisconsin education, WBAY ABC 2 included a sound bite in its story which put forth false information. The sound bite pushed a liberal narrative on school choice which is not backed up by facts. Mainstreaming false information alters public perception on issues, which favors the liberal agenda. This is bias by commission.

Here is the sound bite WBAY included in its report:

Sound bite in WBAY report: “The overwhelming majority of people across the state regardless of party have said they do not want private school vouchers. They do not want our tax dollars given to private and religious schools that are unaccountable to the public.”

WBAY is responsible for vetting the information it airs even if it is contained within sound bites. The reporter should not choose to air a sound bite which puts forth inaccurate information and misinforms the public.

Here are the facts: The most recent poll on the issue of school choice was conducted eight months ago (in October 2014) by Marquette University Law School. The poll found strong support among Wisconsin voters for expanding private school vouchers statewide. The poll –released one week before Election Day – indicated 49 percent of likely voters in Wisconsin support expanding the voucher program statewide; 44 percent are opposed. …According to the pre-election Marquette poll, 70 percent of voters who support Governor Walker favor expansion of the voucher program, while one in four (27%) among backers of his opponent (Democrat Mary Burke) support the move.

What about previous polls?

According to Marquette University Law School: … (in regards to Milwaukee and Racine vouchers…) “In September 2014, 18 percent supported removing all limits on vouchers, 21 percent supported increasing but not eliminating the limits, 19 percent favored keeping the 1,000-student limit and 38 percent would eliminate the statewide voucher program entirely. In previous polling in October 2013 and October 2014, support for expanding vouchers statewide beyond Milwaukee and Racine without mentioning limits was supported by 50 and 49 percent, with 44 percent opposed to expansion in both polls.”

Another bias surfaced earlier in the story. The media commonly spins the decision by lawmakers not to increase a budget item as a “budget cut”; but that doesn’t make it so. If your boss did not give you a raise, did he “cut” your salary? There should be honesty in reporting. It should be made clear to viewers that: 1.) No cuts were made to education and 2.) Democrats have not been successful in getting increases to the education budget they demand. (The media might also want to consider examining whether increased per-pupil funding has resulted in higher test scores in Wisconsin. The media might want to explain how the extra funding is spent. Instead, reporters simply repeat liberal talking points fed by activists without any follow-up for accountability.)

Finally, this report contains bias by selection of sources. Only one perspective is presented. We’ve noticed a pattern that when the Green Bay media in general covers a controversial issue which fits the conservative agenda, the reports are balanced with both viewpoints. When the Green Bay media covers a liberal agenda issue, there has not been a consistent effort made to reach out to the other side and present the counter perspective.

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