Josh Wolsky

Framing and reframing the Igloo, why savvy news readers are always a little suspicious

Media bias is real. Still, it’s not very often that we’re delivered such a clear example from so close to home. Yesterday, Jill Schramm wrote a great recap article on the operation of Minot State’s Air Supported Dome.

If you didn’t catch it, please follow the link below to The Minot Daily and read it. But for perspective, the article was fair, covered both benefits and challenges encountered in the first two years of operation. Here are the title and opening paragraph.

MSU’s air-supported dome wraps up second season in Minot

Certain points in Minot can give the best view of one of the city’s newer assets. It may look like a huge fluffy marshmallow taking over Minot State’s campus or a cloud resting its feet on North Hill. Many have seen it on their drives through town and for those who don’t know, it’s Minot State University’s air-supported dome that is now finishing its second season in Minot.

— Jill Schramm, Minot Daily News

Now, the Igloo (our name ) isn’t without its local controversy. At least a few in town would hold past failing votes on similar concepts as evidence of a betrayal by leadership. I don’t fall in that camp, but this is not a commentary on the Igloo ( our name ).

What’s more interesting is how The Bismarck Tribune reframed the story. Such is the news business. Once produced, the AP agreements provide wide latitude in reuse. But what remains, in the end, isn’t always what was there in the beginning. For context, here are the Tribune’s title and opening paragraph.

Minot State University’s stadium air dome brings challenges

Minot State University is facing some challenges maintaining the air dome over its stadium as the facility wraps up its second season. Minot Daily News reports that operators are struggling with the winter upkeep of the nearly $2 million bubble.

— Bismarck Tribune, AP Rewrite

To be fair, there’s nothing inaccurate about the Tribune’s coverage. What’s written is true. It’s what’s missing that’s more intriguing. Gone are all aspects of anything positive about the Igloo ( our name ).

Why might this be?

Let’s speculate: a conspiracy theorist might leap to the conclusion that there’s intentional bias against Minot. Framing an investment as difficult, or costly, or — by implication — a mistake could easily be taken as an editorial bias against a place. And coming from the state’s capital where little conversations lead to big decisions about bigger amounts of money, and competition amongst North Dakota cities is real, perhaps a small disposition toward conspiracy is healthy.

But what’s more likely for the negative framing is something related to Bismarck. If a conspiracy theorist goes wrong, it’s assuming everything is about them. Historically, the world turns on a far more selfish axis. Perhaps there are local murmurs of a Bismarck bubble, but still unresolved concerns over cost, maintenance, or management.

And far more likely than anything yet mentioned — it’s probably a slow news day with limited column inches available in tomorrow’s paper. Following a day in late April with a snow storm, a story about an indoor field is newsworthy. And we know that by nature, negativity attracts attention. This is probably just an example of business-savvy editorializing.

Whatever the cause, it’s a worthwhile lesson in being careful with the news. It’s not always what it seems. That’s why here on the goal is always to send you back to the source. When I republish or redirect readers, I’m always attempting to deliver a Minot perspective on an outside idea, but I also want you to have access to the original content.

And if you didn’t catch up along the way, we should really just start calling that thing the Igloo!

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, SavorMinot Advocate. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)

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