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USA Today Vs. BBC on the Rumsfeld Resignation

There is no questioning the power of media in our world today. It shapes our views, beliefs, and opinions and makes us the people we are today. Throught the years, media has evolved and taken on new faces, however, the scope of media ownership has narrowed from hundreds of small owners to six giant conglomerates. The driving force behind this shift, as we all know has been capitalism. Many believe that the quest for money has clouded the truth with bias and made news programs play to the interests of the people, subjecting viewers to a distorted view of the world based on the programs they watch. For this project, I will compare two different distorted views of the topic of Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation.
The media sources I chose for this study were USA Today and BBC News. I chose these because I wanted to see how each source covered a specific political issue within the US which had potentially global effects. Especially when a defense secretary in a highly publicized and controversial war resigns after his party loses control of congress.


USA Today Articles:
GOP Angered at Rumsfeld’s Timing
Winners and Losers
Iraq War Can Still Be Won
Bush Welcomes Gates

BBC News:
Rumsfeld Exit Signals Iraq Change
Resignation of Rumsfeld Shows How Much Bush Administration in Disarray About Iraq
Rumsfeld May Face Charges
Midterms Impact on Iraq

The USA Today articles seemed to be focused at portraying the war in a “patriotic? and nationalistic light. The authors of the articles must take into account that their audience is comprised of people with a sense nationalism and therefore, bear a bias when looking at a controversial war which involves their nation. There is also the fact that the authors themselves may share the same sense of nationalism. The owners of USA Today are Gannett Co. Inc., who own many different newspapers and television stations nation wide. The people at Gannett understand that in order for themselves to be competitive in the market, they must play to the interests of the people. In the current international situation, this means not reporting things that will anger the average American.
The BBC articles seemed to care less about reporting things that may anger the average American. The interests of BBC lie in pleasing their readers, many whom have opposed the war from the beginning. Thus making it easier to criticize the Iraq War and the decisions made by American leaders. It was interesting to see how our foreign policy in the U.S. effects foreign nations. When our foreign policy is bad, it makes foreign nations mad, especially those who were dragged into an unpopular war with us; crazy how that works.

Analysis & Discussion:
The differences in the way each news source plays to their audience may very well be the source for some of the way each source reported on the Rumsfeld resignation. I found that the BBC was much more willing to call the war in Iraq a failure due to bad planning by not sending enough troops. Often articles on BBC simply rejected the idea of a war all together, recognizing that both sides have been suffering mass casualties and that a new secretary of defense may offer an opportunity to draw troops out sooner. Whereas USA Toady has headlines which suggest that the planning may have been bad in the war, but we can still “win? and seem very doubtful that a timetable for an exit from Iraq will surface under the new secretary.
The BBC saw the resignation of Rumsfeld as something that was good for the world, many reports focused on the idea that the reason for his resignation was a general disstain for the war in Iraq. The USA Today news source seemed to focus more on how close the elections were, claiming that the democrats squeaked one out. This may be in an effort to make the elections look more balanced, so as to not upset the republican readers by indicating that they have no support and no control.
In conclusion, I believe that the BBC news source is much less likely to feel that they must appeal to the average American bias, but rather that they must appeal to the bias of the rest of the world. This may explain the differences in the light in which we see certain national issues which have global implications. All news in catered to a certain audience in order to be successful, we can then raise the question, does the media shape our view of events, or do people shape the media’s view of certain events?