Bias in Journalism

by Allie Burke

I am in my senior year of the Journalism and Mass Communication bachelor’s program at University of Arizona Global Campus.

Throughout my college career as a journalist, one thing has been consistent: be objective and do not be biased.

My dad watches a lot of Fox News, and I remember asking, when I was much younger (maybe in high school), what political party (Republican or Democrat) most journalists are. We were watching Bill O’Reilly if I remember. He answered, “they are not supposed to be a part of any political party, but they usually lean one way or the other”. Many people believe that the majority of journalists are actually very liberal.

Being in a journalism program and consistently being exposed to the question on bias, I always wondered about this because I know from my own experience that journalists are most definitely not unbiased. I’ve watched Tucker Carlson; I’ve read the New York Times. And it is clear that bias exists in most news organizations. While I lean very left, I do not consider myself a member of either party because I don’t support the extremist views on either side (please do not comment on this blog that liberals are not extremists; some of them are). But I do get my news from NPR, which is obviously known to be liberal.

AllSides

This is an interesting chart from AllSides (n.d.) because I would not have thought NPR is neutral or Fox News is a little bit conservative.

In any case, in my current course, Newsgathering and Reporting, the bias thing has been somewhat addressed. My textbook (2017) refers to the history of journalism being unbiased because it was necessary to be like a science (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, Ranly). It also provides some information from the book The Elements of Journalism (which I have but have not read yet). The authors of The Elements of Journalism worry that this idea of objectivity has gone too far and replaced the original concept (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, Ranly, 2017). The original concept was for journalism to be like a science, and scientists state their conclusion and why they stated that conclusion, but science does not require neutrality (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, Ranly, 2017). The Elements of Journalism suggests that journalists would be more open if they were honest about their biases (Brooks, Kennedy, Moen, Ranly, 2017).

While this explained a lot about what I was wondering, it got me thinking, are the journalists really that biased? I mean of course they are, all people are biased. But I mean, take Tucker Carlson for example. Or, Sean Hannity if you prefer. (And before you say something, yes, these individuals are technically journalists.) Surely Tucker Carlson cannot really be that way in his life, right? Like, does he go around interrupting people and laughing in their face when they are being serious? Is that how he treats his wife? Maybe. But most likely not.

Scenarios like these make me wonder if it is the editors and the producers and the news organizations are the ones who are really biased, and the journalists must serve that bias in order to get, and keep, a job.

I want to hear what you think though. Leave me a comment if this topic interests you at all.

Allie Burke is a writer, communications professional, and CEO and Co-Founder of Stigma Fighters.
Allie Burke is a writer, communications professional, and CEO and Co-Founder of Stigma Fighters.

References

AllSides. (n.d.). Media Bias Ratings. https://www.allsides.com/media-bias/media-bias-ratings

Amazon. (n.d.). The Elements of Journalism, Revised and Updated 3rd Edition: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect. https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Journalism-Revised-Updated-3rd/dp/0804136785/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=the+elements+of+journalism&qid=1622990452&sr=8-3

Brooks, B.S., Kennedy, G., Moen, D.R., Ranly, D. (2017). News Reporting and Writing. Bedford/St. Martin’s.

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