Since daily newspapers are fair and balanced institutions staffed entirely by objective journalists who merely report the facts, one might expect that our two dailies, covering the same public hearing on the same day, would pretty much report the same story.
Hmm. Interesting thesis. But how does it work out in practice?
| Seattle Times:|| Seattle P-I:|
According to the Times, the big story was the stunning, plot-twisting conclusion to the Bellevue vs. Renton “mystery.” According to the P-I, the big story was the Sonics intention to fleece $400 million out of taxpayers to build them the most expensive basketball arena in the nation.
Both articles report that the proposed arena would cost about $500 million, and that the Sonics are requesting $300 million in “state-authorized” taxes — but only the P-I spells out that the tax money would come from King County residents, not the state. The Times reports that the remaining $200 million would be “split among private investors and the city of Renton,” whereas the P-I is more specific:
Bennett told the Senate Ways and Means Committee that he expects the public to provide most of the financing — $300 million from the state, about $100 million from the city of Renton — and that most of the money from the facility should go to the team.
And only the P-I points out that the 22-acre site the Sonics have chosen is probably not for sale.
One hearing, two newspapers, two ledes. And two very different story lines coming out of yesterday’s events. I’m not implying any intentional bias on the part of the various reporters, just that bias inevitably exists, and inevitably seeps through every journalist’s work, no matter how hard they try to suppress it. (And sometimes, because they try to suppress it.)