Non-Objective Story



News reports rarely provide a complete vision of reality. Largely, some details are left out, and their choice is mainly a subjective one, whereby reporters perceptions are mainly biased in some form. Although political attitudes of most Americans remain reasonably moderate, polarization is still vivid. As such, non-objective reporting on the Keystone Pipeline legislation is not an exception; the story fails to explore all issues and angles and exposes the ones of interest for political opponents skewing the facts. The story in The American Conservative is non-objective given that the project has become an impetus for fighting for other contentious issues, including energy, climate change, and the economy, which draw huge divisions between the Republicans and Democrats. The paper analyzes whether the target audience (conservatives) is likely to read the story since it is ideologically consistent. On the other hand, the liberals are highly likely to avoid reading it since they expect it to be opinion-challenging.

Keywords: audience profile, selective attitude reinforcement, defensive selection, attitude-congruent messages, dissonance avoidance, intersubjectivity

Non-Objective Story


The Keystone regulation ended the State Departments six-year review of the TransCanadas Keystone XL proposal to construct an oil pipeline to transport shale oil from Montana to North Dakota and oil sands from Canada to Texas. The ruling negates the need for a Presidential Permit and paves the way for the start of the construction project (Galupo, 2013). However, it is highly improbable that either the House or the Senate can rally the two-thirds majority votes needed to override a veto. Galupos reporting is not robust enough since it fails to present a balance between competing viewpoints of the issue. Galupo does not shy away from highlighting that Obamas decision to delay the Keystone project influenced election politics negatively (Galupo, 2013). Galupos subjectively faults Obamas pragmatic problem-solving skills and confidently concludes that the time is up, and the Obama administration can no longer continue to delay the project (Galupo, 2013).

Conservatives and Republicans favor news in the conservative media. The same case applies to the Liberals and Democrats who exhibit the converse syndrome, subscribing to the perceived liberal media and avoiding conservative publications. The inclination towards a particular choice of reading based on a partisan affinity does not merely concern news stories on controversial issues, but also applies to the ones on soft topics, such as travel and crime. Most importantly, such inclination is entrenched among the politically involved audience.

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Studies have shown that when given an opportunity to choose between news reports with a diverse partisan slant, the audience gravitates towards like-minded news (Prior, 2013). Given the news source is pro-conservative in its coverage of issues and events, one may notice significant behavior variations between different partisan groups reading the new sources. Republicans and Conservatives should seek out particular news stories, while Liberals and Democrats do the opposite. Furthermore, in light of the present political environment, it is reasonable to expect the approach-avoidance behavioral pattern among the audience, which differs based on the content of news reports. In line with the world of polarized news sources, Conservatives are most likely to favor a conservative news source, especially when its subject centers on some controversial issues (in this case the Keystone XL Project). The audience of the news story State of the Union: Obama should green-light Keystone Pipeline involves Americans who may be either mixed, largely, or consistently conservative. It may also attract Liberals wanting to read dissenting political views. Ideologically skewed news stories are mainly read by a small, but highly engaged and influential section of the population. The audience profile is most likely dominated by older white males (Prior, 2013). Besides the critics and supporters of the project by both parts of the political divide, the audience also includes local communities residing in the states where the pipeline will pass through and environmentalists.

Selective exposure represents the audiences tendency to select information that reinforces their pre-existing views, while simultaneously avoiding conflicting information. The selection of news stories depends on perspectives, attitudes, decisions, and beliefs that fit into their worldview. Challenge avoidance and reinforcement behaviors have serious consequences for opinion and attitude formation (Garrett, 2009). It seems that when reporting news about the government and politics, Liberals and Conservatives live in different worlds. The audience with the most consistent ideological view on the left and right seek news stories that are distinct from those read by persons that have mixed political views. Selective exposure is evident in the non-objective story by Galupo in the sense that the author holds certain prejudices and opinions regarding out-groups, in this case, Democrats.

Frames selected for a news story are rarely conscientiously selected but mirror the intention of the sponsor or the journalist to express a story in a direct and meaningful way. Consequently, news frames stem from and reflect shared cultural myths and narratives, and reverberate with bigger social and political themes. People are most likely to read, view, or listen to a piece of information that reinforces their opinion and are less probable to support information that challenges their position (Prior, 2013). Consequently, Liberals and Democrats may engage in the defensive selection of attitude-congruent messages and retain confidence in their original opinions.

Audiences avoid stories that they dislike and gravitate to news stories in the form of news and opinions of like-minded persons (Garrett, 2009). The target audience (Conservatives) is likely to read the story since it is ideologically consistent. The Liberals are highly likely to avoid the story since they expect it to be opinion-challenging. The cognitive dissonance theory posits that attitude-consistent post-decisional information triggers positive feelings in the decision-maker. As such, the Liberals may involve in selectivity (reinforcement seeking) or challenge avoidance to minimize the dissonance.

The overriding tenet of intersubjectivity is ambiguity or the notion that objective reality is inexistent (Prior, 2013). The lack for the objective telling of facts in the story determines its distinct shades and colors. Audience choices impact intersubjectivity in the sense that rather than acting based on personal values and beliefs, people sometimes act guided by the ones they consider to be widespread within their culture. Thus, the audiences political affiliation may not always channel psychological processes. Indeed, some ecological locales may play a central role in shaping the mindset of the audience, which means that the story may still find favor among the Liberals and Democrats.


News stories possess no inherent value unless framed in a meaningful context that gives it coherence. In line with the politically inspired selective exposure, the audience tends to favor news stories that reinforce a set mindset or decision, while neglecting or downplaying contradictory information. The Republicans mostly adopt a conservative viewpoint of salient issues, while Democrats follow liberal positions. The story State of the Union: Obama should green-light Keystone Pipeline fails to satisfy the expectations of objective reporting in the sense that it is heavily laden with the reporters ideological slant. In the light of this, Galupo appears to emphasize a certain point of view that promotes a conservative agenda. It is not surprising that Galupo slants the story in a manner that corresponds to the target audiences political views.

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