Confronting Bias

Additional Reading

Words to Know

Gatekeeping -- A concept in sociology and social psychology based on functions regulating access to information, goods, services, and to those in power within hierarchical social structures and organizations.
Hyperbole -- A figure of speech involving emphatic exaggeration or overstatement, sometimes based on irony and/or for comic effect. Sensational reporting often employs hyperbole (informally called hype).
Framing -- The way in which individuals and the mass media turn the flow of everyday life into narrative events; The role of particular techniques and devices employed in representations as a means of constraining interpretation
Neutrality --  An ideal of representing (some aspect of) reality purely objectively, without distortion or bias; In journalism, an ethical ideal of not taking sides or expressing a personal opinion, and keeping an open mind
Objectivity -- Making and interpreting verifiable observations about the world without researcher bias: the goal of scientific research based on objectivism;  In journalism (particularly in public-service broadcasting), a professional ideal or norm in factual reporting involving the related goals of accuracy, truthfulness, impartiality, neutrality, disinterestedness, and the avoidance of conscious bias or distortion.
Satire -- A genre in literature, film, and other media which is used to deflate, ridicule, and censure the perceived folly or immorality of what is represented. Tools include irony, sarcasm, wit, caricature, exaggeration, distortion, and parody.
Spin -- Selectively creating narratives and frames for events so that those particular definitions of situations are privileged which best serve the client’s interests.

Definitions from Chandler, D., & Munday, R. (2020). A dictionary of media and communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Incorporated.

Bias in Media

Editorial Biases

When news stories are paid for and/or written by commercial entities, or when news stories are selected or slanted to please advertisers or corporate content

Image of a New York Times article labeled "PAID POST" and titled "The Key to Business Modernization"

Stories are published and promoted that promote fear, anger, or excitement. Bias in favor of the exceptional over the ordinary can give the impression that rare events are more common or serious than common events. Sensationalist titles may also be called clickbait and often do not accurately reflect the content of the article.

White text on black backgound. Image of a CBS News article titled "Asteroid that may be the size of the Empire State Building to Zoom Past Earth

Images are selected that skew the readers perception of the events reported or story's overall importance.

Black text on white background and a small image of a nuclear power plant; exhaust from the powerplant is intermingled with dollar bills

Reporting Biases

Issues and events are reported as being more fair and balanced than evidence suggests; Opposing viewpoints are given equal time and treatment even if there is more evidence to support one viewpoint.

Cartoon showing a magazine article titles The Case For and Against. In an outset panel, Dr. X says "My lab has studied this problem for years, and our study shows..." In a second outset panel Dr. Y says "I've thought about this a great deal, and I believe..."

News outlets rely on current and fresh content. Reports may report on emerging events before gathering all relevant information. Additionally, articles may imply that an event is new or unique (and thus notable) without addressing related past events.

Black text on a white background reads BREAKING Grad Ledge school superintendent resigns board positions. Highlight text at the bottom of the image reads This story is developing and will be updated

Articles may omit information that is important to a full understanding of the issue being discussed. Such information is may be omitted to skew the reader's perception of an event or issue. Omission bias is often difficult to notice unless you read a number of articles cover the same issue from a variety of perspectives.

Black text on a white background reads NBC's Meet the Press apologizes for inadvertently adn inaccurately editing Barr clip

Reporter may use words with positive or negative connotations to evoke an emotional response in readers.

Black text on a white background reads Trupm invokes George Floyds name while taking economic victory lap

Reports may offer analysis or suggest solutions that they are not qualified to give. This may imply endorsement of and idea or practice.

Black text on white background reads Here are seven times that Fox News promoted taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent contracting COVID-19