Fox 11 Tackles School Drug Testing

WLUK FOX 11 |  12/14/2016


At WMCF, much of our work “checking” bias seems to focus on local media’s bias toward a political party or candidate. Every now-and-then, we’re presented with the opportunity to point out bias that is committed in an apolitical context. On Wednesday, December 14, Fox 11 (WLUK) featured the following video report and story on its website regarding recent efforts within the State Legislature to mandate drug testing in high schools.

WMCF takes no position on whether drug testing in schools is a good idea or not. However, in its report, FOX 11 purports to be offering “Multiple Views,” yet their report seems to miss the mark.

After presenting a detailed report on the drug testing program at De Pere High School and a brief overview of a similar statewide program under consideration for future legislation; the reporter indicates that “not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.” Yet, the only counterpoint offered is from a State Assemblywoman who favors the decision-making authority to be at the local rather than the state wide level for such programs.

A more complete example of reporting with “multiple views” on this story was produced by the Wisconsin State Journal on December 14th.

The cost of the legislation and how it would be paid for is also undetermined. (WSJ, 2016).

Numerous groups believe drug testing in schools could be used to target certain students. The American Academy of Pediatrics is another organization with concerns because of confidentiality and possible errors in the testing process.

Proponents of random drug testing refer to potential advantages such as students avoiding drug use because of the negative consequences associated with having a positive drug test results, while opponents of random drug testing agree that the disadvantages are much greater, and can include deterioration in the student-school relationship, confidentiality of students’ medical records, and mistakes in interpreting drug tests that can result in false-positive results. (AAP, 2015).

The National Institute On Drug Abuse refers to several studies and concludes that;

Research in this area shows mixed results, however study authors generally agree that student drug testing should not be a stand-alone strategy for reducing substance use in students, and that school climate (the quality and character of school life) is an important factor for achieving positive results in drug prevention programs. (NIH, 2014).

By presenting a story that appears to cast a favorable light on a certain policy – required drug testing in high schools – while failing to provide a more substantive contrary point of view from another source, FOX 11 commits bias by source selection.

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