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Talk About Bias



I found it quite interesting in your 11/15/02 article "Man Bites Watchdogs," by Michael Miner, how bias was clearly detectable in an article about bias. First off, let me say I believe it was an important article, talking about the hot-button issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the remarkable spin campaign of the Israelis. It's exactly the kind of thing that doesn't get talked about in American media, for fear of being branded with the anti-Semitism stick. Kudos for bringing it up.

On the other hand, Mr. Miner's portrayal of Ms. Geovanis was clearly, from the very start, colored by Mr. Miner's feelings toward her. I've never met the woman personally, and even without the pejorative language I would have found her abrasive, if she really did act as described.

However, I thought it odd that she was the only person with whom the words "shrieked," "screamed," "yelled," and so forth were regularly used, when others would get the more neutral-sounding "responded," "replied," "said," or even "cried." Furthermore, why is it that Ms. Geovanis is the only one with a quote published about her, and not a positive one at that?

I did have to applaud Mr. Miner's thoroughness in following Geovanis off campus, through her arrest and holding. It seemed like the arrest was one of those issues where those who don't like Geovanis are trying to strong-arm her (picking her up for stopping to light a cigarette on her way off campus?), but such analysis would tend to seem sympathetic toward the subject, so Mr. Miner avoids mentioning it.

I wanted to both applaud the story's main effort and warn against the tendency to subvert the main effort by editorializing on a more minor issue. You can still suggest your dislike without being intrusively obvious about it; her interruptions alone would have done it. Just be better about it in the future is my recommendation.

E. Mark Mitchell


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