Barber: Journalists are Biased, That’s a Fact

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The late political climate has been waging a war on the media, attacking news sources as fake or biased. The media has been made out to be something evil, and the American people no longer trust it to bring them accurate, untainted news. As a result, it’s become difficult to find out what is really going on in the world because of the accusations against news sources and their writers.

The media is inherently biased. Journalists are human, and, despite our best efforts, human emotions cannot be completely removed. News anchors, radio hosts and article writers do attempt to write as objectively as possible, but it is absurd to believe that there is any way for news — or other journalistic pursuits — to be completely unbiased.

Not only is it impossible, but it can be dangerous to assume that news sources are without bias. Theres a mindset that teaches people to believe that news should be completely and totally objective and that anything that is not is “fake news.” When news sources exhibit their inevitable bias, they lose the faith of people who have been brainwashed into believing that news cannot be useful if it has any semblance of opinion.

Journalists have been forced into a corner where admitting their bias marks them as unprofessional, incorrect and bad. Out of fear for their jobs and their journalistic integrity, reporters must pretend to be completely unbiased and deny any sort of opinion they have that might leak subconsciously into their writing. But by denying this bias, journalists actually worsen the problem. When the American people are told that the news is facts and facts only, then discover a bias in writing, distrust builds. This forces journalists to deny their bias even more vehemently, and so on and so forth. It is a downward spiral which fosters fear amongst news-people and distrust among citizens.

As journalists, it is important to break this cycle and acknowledge that we are imperfect and opinionated people trying our best to keep others informed. As journalists, we should be able to admit that we are biased for the very sake of providing accuracy. Presenting information as objective when there is an inherent bias is dishonest, misleading and contributes to the distrust of the media we are facing today. We should be able to say, “I am a journalist. I am biased in some ways. I am trying my hardest to keep that bias out of my writing.”

As consumers of news, it is equally important to look for the bias in everything we read or watch. In order to understand the true facts of what is going on in our turbulent world we should acknowledge that other people, even journalists, will have strong feelings and opinions. It is necessary to read a variety of news sources from many different political backgrounds and opinions. Searching for news that is flatly objective will only lead to disappointment because this is simply unfeasible. By looking at news that comes from a variety of viewpoints we can learn more about the biases of each news provider and try to limit that effect by reading other sources as well.

As human beings it is impossible to live life without some sort of bias, but we shouldn’t try. News providers and journalists should be open with themselves and with the public for the sake of improving the quality of reporting and restoring the trust between the media and the citizens of the United States of America.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

Shaelyn is a fourth year at the University of Utah studying Political Science and Journalism in the hopes that someday she can be a travel writer. She is especially passionate about social justice, LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights, and mental health awareness. In her (very rare) free time she loves to hike, paint, and read.

1 COMMENT

  1. Ms. Barber,
    Your rationale is flawed and shows a lack of understanding of the field to which you aspire. Journalism has a long history of people doing exactly what you’re stating they shouldn’t even attempt: presenting factual news in a clear and unbiased manner. I’m guessing the reason you are promoting the idea that you are is because you’ve never been exposed to actual journalism (possibly because Fox News has been in existence longer than you have). As a former student of the Communication Dept at The U, I can only hope that you have come to this conclusion is direct conflict with what you should have been taught in your classes, because I can’t imagine ANY of my instructors teaching or endorsing potential journalists to embrace their bias. It goes against every journalistic ethic and, on top of that, is simply “the easy way out.” Maybe you need to investigate the field you want to join a bit more to see how it is actually done. Unless, of course, your goal is to work at Fox News. If that is the case, your right on track.

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