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Thomas A. Mayer, Bismarck, Published September 21 2013

Letter: What bias motivates ND editors?

There’s been talk about the low information voter as a reason for numbskulls being elected to office. I suggest that is contributed to in large part by selective news reporting by newspaper and other media editors.

An example: About a month ago, there was an Associated Press story datelined Fargo that reported that scores of North Dakota high school students who took the recent ACT test were about a point under the national average. The Forum waxed indignant in an editorial Aug. 22 that suggested the state Department of Public Instruction or teaching might be the problem.

In past years, that annual story about how North Dakota students scored below the national average was followed by an explanation from the state superintendent of public instruction that because all North Dakota high school students take the test, it’s unfair to compare the state’s average score against averages from states that only allow the top 25 percent of students to take the ACT or only the top half of students or those planning for college. It’s like comparing apples to kumquats.

What’s changed? Why no follow-up story giving the “other side of the story.”

A news release was sent out by the state Department of Public Instruction on Aug. 21 in anticipation of the one-sided AP story, explaining the skewed comparisons.

Did anyone read about that? What political bias and animus it is that motivates editors to choose what to print and not to print? They leave the impression with the public that North Dakota high school students who take the ACT test are not as well taught, are not as smart and have not achieved as much as their peers in other states.