Was FAIR fair to the Buffalo News?

By Sarah Sefried

FAIR, standing for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, published an article stating that The Buffalo News contributed to incumbent Byron Brown’s mayoral win over India Walton.

The organization’s main critique was that the hometown paper used a lot of cutthroat language toward Walton. For instance, The Buffalo News Editorial Board called Brown “the only candidate with skills” and said Walton is “dangerously inexperienced” while simultaneously reminding readers to cast their ballots regardless of who they support in that same article.

Although this specific article by The Buffalo News used a lot of biased language in favor of the incumbent, there have also been articles from the paper that criticized Brown for his character and took him off a pedestal. Prior to Walton’s primary victory, the news outlet shamed Brown for his reluctance to participate in a debate, stating that “he can do better than this.”

It is apparent from FAIR’s piece that The Buffalo News did treat Walton in different ways than the incumbent, specifically targeting her left-leaning ideologies and lack of experience compared to Brown. The closer and closer it became to the November election, the more critical the articles became about Walton, shifting the perspective of readers toward her as a candidate. A Nov. 2 article raised questions about whether Walton was ready to become mayor. As a result, FAIR does present a valid argument by illustrating how the newspaper’s coverage of Walton tended to downplay her legitimacy as a candidate.

However, it is also essential to put into perspective that Walton was a new candidate, and for that reason, all eyes were going to be on her. It should be expected that many of these eyes were going to be judgmental ones, as she had a lot to prove for herself as someone who was running against the incumbent who had served four previous terms as mayor.

Sarah Sefried was a student in Campaigns, Candidates and Current Elections, an honors course at St. Bonaventure University.

Categories: Jandoli Institute, Media, Politics

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