Unbiased journalism is crucial to an open-minded society

Unbiased+journalism+is+crucial+to+an+open-minded+society

Graphic by Julia Pariser

Deirdre de Leeuw den Bouter

When you come downstairs in the morning, how often do you see your parents reading the Washington Post or an article on their phone? We all read news reports everyday, using them to learn recent and relevant information. Yet journalism is often plagued by bias of the writer or publication it comes from. I believe this causes a dangerous misunderstanding between the public and media. 

According to the American Press Institute, journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. The Washington Post, New York Times, and The Beacon are all forms of journalism, because they present news and opinions to a wide array of audiences. Journalism began around the 1400’s with small scale stories and information being exchanged between people. It really took off in the 1600’s with the invention of the printing press in Germany. Newspapers and political pamphlets began flooding out after this, overwhelming the public with sudden knowledge of worldwide events. Some big names in American history ran forms of journalism, including Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin, who began the Pennsylvania Gazette. 

Reporting can take on many forms. So far, I’ve mainly mentioned newspapers. But remember all those CNN 10 videos we used to watch every morning with Carl Azuz? Yup, that’s also journalism. News channels on TV, photos, small form YouTube videos, pamphlets, and brochures are also all forms of journalism. Now, the reason I’m explaining all this is to demonstrate all the ways we take in the news. With so many forms of information, there is bound to be bias in some of it.

Biased press is dangerous to our world view today. Almost all the news and articles we read are prejudiced in some ways, even if we don’t realize it. Networks such as Fox News are famous for being slandered by the left for demonstrating bias towards Donald Trump and conservative issues. For example, they recently released an article connecting the lockdown in San Francisco to an uptick in crime. While they may be slightly connected, the article paints a picture that the lockdown is the only causation. The same is true on the other side, whether we like it or not. Channels such as CNN and the Washington Post are obviously biased against Trump and more conservative agendas. 

This is the root of the fuel used by extreme nationalists groups, and can be very dangerous. Groups such as the “Proud Boys” and “Unite the Right” use misinformation to gain membership. Tainted news can even affect us, here at Wilson. For example, I’ve heard about 4 dates for reopening for Wilson (but I still have no idea when we are actually going back). Bias contaminates our consumption of news. Dangers of media bias include the spread of misinformation and the corrupting of people’s opinions. 

So, why has this happened? According to an article on Market Watch, there was a major shift in US news outlets during the early 2000’s. Networks became more interested in creating TV personalities and debating the news rather than using precise and concise language to state current events. This introduced opinions to the news rooms, tainting our intake. Another change seen is what news we were seeing. In post 9/11 USA, we watched horrible and uncensored content in our daily news updates, such as dire warnings about climate change and, recently, that the US surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths. 

A 2019 US World & News report found that some 63 percent of people say that there are no longer any objective news sources they can trust, and 66 percent say internet news and content is dividing people rather than uniting them. In today’s world, it’s hard to determine what we can or can’t read to get an unbiased take on global developments. If we don’t begin to see mainstream unbiased news sources, more and more citizens will distrust the media until we see the day newspapers stop being printed.

You may be wondering, what can I read that is completely unbiased. The answer: nothing. Journalism will always have bias, whether inherent or not. But, if you are looking for some impartial news, your best bet will be BBC, the Economist, Bloomberg News, the Atlantic and Associated Press.

In this day and age, it’s difficult to get a taste of neutral news. Bias exists everywhere in our lives, but I believe it mars our understanding of the world around us. Maybe next time you see your parents reading CNN or watching Fox News, remind them that the world these correspondents are depicting is not detached from partiality.