Are the news media actually biased?
Good journalism is all about being objective, but can those of us behind the media really be objective when we’re different individuals? The answer is no, and the very essence of bias challenges our journalistic duties every time we report on factual events. That said, we still strive to be neutral in our information, despite how difficult it is to connect to who we write about.
During Monday’s presidential debate, one of the topics brought before Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was race, particularly how police have handled the innumerable deaths of black men in America. In response, Clinton stated how bias extends beyond racial prejudice.
“I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone,” Clinton said. “Not just police. I think unfortunately too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other. Therefore, I think we need all of us to be asking ourselves hard questions about why I’m feeling this way.”
For starters, Hillary, we also deserve to ask your question ourselves. Without bias in news media, which doesn’t have any choice but to cover this tumultuous election, you would be painted much worse than your orange-tanned opponent.
While Clinton has her fair share of derpy memes and crosses to bear, Donald Trump attracts the most negative of news reporting; mostly from his dumbfounding Twitter account and lack of facts to support his heinous claims. As much as Trump supporters could argue that news media have expressed an unfair partiality to their patron saint, the truth of the matter is that journalists cannot avoid their biases.
Although it’s my job to summarize the heart and soul of my reporting colleagues, all writers are taught to include “voice” in their work. We each have distinct styles we choose to express ourselves with, so no matter how objective journalists have to be, their voice will always ooze through their verbiage to some extent.
It’s still possible, however, for an outlet to be fair and not become FOX News. While objectivity is difficult to grasp, it is not unattainable. A few weeks ago, I penned a column supporting women’s rights to free tampons in their restrooms. Was I aware of my male perspective while writing it? Of course, but the facts were there, regardless of how detached I am from the female experience. It’s not about the expression of subjective attitudes, but digging into the values of your subject to teach readers what you learned.
I agreed with Clinton’s bias statement overall, but at the same time, she basically said the obvious. It’s easy to see how broadcast news media lean in its daily coverage of presidential titans, but next time, be privy to who is actually putting that news together. You’re a human being learning from old mistakes, and journalists are constantly learning as well.
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