Century Marks

Century Marks

Biased how?

Brooke Gladstone points out that political bias is not the only kind of bias in the news media. There is a commercial bias that prefers new or dramatic stories over less exciting ones in order to get viewers and readers. There is a bad news bias, based on the notion that people are drawn to stories that make us afraid. An access bias makes reporters tread lightly on stories that might jeopardize their ability to get information from powerful sources. A visual bias prefers stories with good images. A narrative bias favors stories that have a beginning, middle and ending. A fairness bias tries to give equal weight to all perspectives, even though some may be crazy or even false (Saturday Evening Post, May/June).

Rare case

A hard-line Muslim cleric received an 11-year suspended sentence last month for tearing up and burning a Bible in Egypt. His son was given a suspended sentence of eight years for the same incident. The two were ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($700). The ruling can be appealed. The cleric ripped up a Bible and burned it during a rally last fall by ultraconservative Salafi Muslims in front of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, protesting an anti-Islam film produced in the United States. It’s rare in Egypt for an attack on a faith other than Islam to be prosecuted (AP).

Define church

Will Campbell, who died last month, referred to himself as a bootleg preacher. A lawyer once asked him where he went to church. Campbell said that depends on your definition of church. The lawyer replied that church is a community of baptized believers. Campbell said that the night before he was in a tavern with a neighbor whose wife had just died. He watched him get drunk and helped him a bit. Campbell said he knew the people in that tavern. “There were all baptized; they were all believers,” he said (Tennessean, June 4).

A child shall lead them

Hannah Robertson, a nine-year-old from British Columbia, took the microphone at a McDonald’s shareholders meeting and rebuked CEO Thompson: “It would be nice if you stopped trying to trick kids into wanting to eat your food all the time.” Hannah had the backing of her mother, who writes a food blog, and the activist group Corporate Accountability International, which is pressuring McDonald’s to stop marketing to kids and to serve more healthy food. Hannah said that she wrote most of her speech herself (NPR, May 23).

Marital advantage?

Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that it will lead to a further weakening of the institution of marriage. But some research shows that there are strengths in same-sex marriage from which heterosexual couples could learn. Same-sex couples tend to be happier and have less conflict, and they are more likely to share equally in household chores and childrearing. Because they don’t have fixed gender roles to follow, same-sex couples have to do more negotiating to make the relationship work. “If a genderless marriage is a marriage in which the wife is not automatically expected to be responsible for school forms and child care and dinner preparation and birthday parties and midnight feedings and holiday shopping, I think it’s fair to say that many heterosexual women would cry ‘Bring it on!’” says Liza Mundy (Atlantic, June).