AP US Government : Bias

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Bias

Which of these examples best demonstrates a survey carried out by random sampling?

Possible Answers:

Dialing random numbers that begin with the number nine.

Going to a football stadium and asking fans to answer a short survey before entering the arena.

Dialing random numbers that end with the number nine.

Going to a high-end supermarket and stopping passersby to ask questions.

Calling people on thanksgiving when they are more likely to be in their home environment.

Correct answer:

Dialing random numbers that end with the number nine.

Explanation:

Random sampling refers to a survey in which everyone has an equal possibility of being selected. It is considered a tenet of reliable survey methodology because it ensures as little bias will be inherent in the survey as is possible. The best example shown here is dialing random numbers that end with the number nine, this is entirely random and the only real bias it can generate is “people who own phones.” Dialing random numbers that begin with the number nine will select people based on area code; going to a high-end supermarket will select wealthier people; going to a football stadium will obviously select sports fans; calling people on thanksgiving will generate slightly different results than a normal day because people will be in unusual moods, either positively or negatively, and this example makes no mention of how the numbers are selected so would be poor survey practice.

Example Question #49 : Special Interests And Mass Media

Which of these statements about media organizations is most accurate?

Possible Answers:

The credibility of The New York Times has never been as high as it is now.

Americans do not trust television media.

Americans get the majority of their news from print media.

The declining readership of print media has rendered the political opinions of its columnists obsolete.

Talk radio is primarily controlled by conservative voices.

Correct answer:

Talk radio is primarily controlled by conservative voices.

Explanation:

The majority of Americans get their news from television media, so we can rule out two of these answer choices. We can also firmly state that the credibility of the New York Times has been higher in the past, as it was recently rocked by a scandal when one of its regular contributors admitted he had fabricated news stories. Finally, although print media readership is declining, to claim that it is now obsolete is an extreme stretch. The only statement here that it is mostly accurate is that talk radio is primarily controlled by conservative voices. Talk radio emerged in the 1980s and 1990s and mixes partisan interviews with political commentary. It is usually conservative, but not exclusively.

Example Question #2 : Bias

Which of the following types of news stories is most likely to be objective?

Possible Answers:

Local news story

Routine story

Insider story

Feature story

Congressional story

Correct answer:

Routine story

Explanation:

There are three types of news stories that differ significantly in the opportunity for media bias. Routine stories about events that are regularly covered by many reporters are least likely to be biased because they tend to involve a simple accounting of events. For example, the President's trip to Martha's Vineyard for vacation is most likely to be a routine story. 

Example Question #3 : Bias

Why was the creation of the Associated Press a unique event in the early history of American media?

Possible Answers:

Because it was able to take "yellow journalism" stories and spread them to a global audience

Because it had to present the facts objectively in order to gain the widest possible subscriber base

Because it was the most staunchly conservative media outlet at the time

Because it quickly formed an alliance with the Government Printing Office

Because it was the first new organization to make use of the telegraph

Correct answer:

Because it had to present the facts objectively in order to gain the widest possible subscriber base

Explanation:

The Associated Press was formed at a time when "yellow journalism" was rampant. Because the AP was a subscription service that provided short, telegraphed stories to newspaper editors across the country, it had to be as neutral as possible in its reporting to attract a large subscriber base. This financially incentivized at least one form of journalism that was objective, as opposed to sensationalist.

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