Yes, journalists are biased

Published April 12, 2016 on Medium.

At least once a day while scrolling through my Facebook feed or on Twitter I see someone comment about “how biased the liberal news media is” or claim that they don’t like a particular journalist because of their biases. Nothing drives me more crazy, because bias in journalism is something that cannot and will not ever go away.

My Surface Pro has a news aggregator built into it. I try to spend half an hour a day scrolling through the sections and catching up on news from several different organizations. I spend much more than half an hour a day drinking coffee.

As humans, we are inherently biased. There is no getting around this — most of the time the bias is subconscious and isn’t something that we even realize. I am biased in choosing to use one word over another, in choosing one expert over another to interview, etc. Every single human experiences bias, and to hold journalists to a different standard of unachievable objectivity is not only silly, it’s harmful to how you consume news.

Pretending that one news source isn’t biased or is less biased does you no favors, it simply blinds you to what bias is actually there. Not reading another news source because it doesn’t align with your political beliefs and is thus “biased” in your opinion doesn’t make you a savvy news reader, it forces you to miss out of alternative coverage that could also help you grow as a well-informed, democratic citizen.

We need to get away from this idea that we no longer need to work for the news that we get simply because we live in an ever-connected world through social media. Even if you follow every news organization you can think of on Twitter, chances are you’re getting nothing more than a snapshot of what they cover. If you only follow news that aligns with your beliefs, you’re missing out on information that is valuable.

People used to take time out of their days to read a newspaper over a cup of coffee in the morning, or to tune into the evening news each night after dinner. When did we, as news consumers, become so lazy to think that any and all news of value is going to pop up on our Facebook timelines?

The truth is, to be a good, well-rounded consumer of news and media, you have to put in a little time and a little work. Take half an hour a day to read up on the news. This allows you to tailor your news to what you find interesting. If you don’t see enough international news on your social media feeds, spend time browsing the international tabs on three different news sites. But for goodness sake, make sure that one of those sites is one you consider “biased,” because ignoring Fox news or the liberal media simply because you think it’s biased is doing you no favors. It just means you lose out.

I hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as objectivity, at least not in the true sense. Everyone has an opinion, and it’s completely impossible to erase that opinion when we are writing or talking about something. Journalists are trained to understand their biases and do their best not to show them in their reporting, but it is impractical to believe that one news source or journalist is any less biased than the rest of the human race. Understand these biases when you’re reading the news, don’t ignore them.

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