Student reporters wonder if avoid bias is a realistic goal

There is no doubt that the media has played a large part in this election. As a member of the media, we’ve been thinking a lot about what our role is.

The Setonian staff is obviously being trained to be journalists, which traditionally means we are unbiased deliverers of the truth. To be honest though, off this campus, that’s not really what journalism has become–at least not in many cases.

“Over 70 percent of Americans believe that there is either a great deal or a fair amount of media bias in news coverage,” according to the National Bureau of Economic Research,

We can barely go a day without finding another thing to blame on the media. They are too sensational. They are trying too hard to sell the news. They are bloodthirsty, biased and sometimes even rude.

Then again, it’s that ruthless attitude that gains die-hard supporters of their political party, station or anchor. Have you seen “Nancy Grace” lately? If her fans don’t watch her for their entertainment, they watch her to see how she delivers her “facts” and opinions.

According to a study by Stefano DellaVigna and Ethan Kaplan on Fox News said, “estimates imply that Fox News convinced three to eight percent of its viewers to vote Republican according to a first audience measure, and 11 to 28 percent according to a second, more restrictive audience measure.”

Newspapers, or any other news media, is a business. In this economy, and in a world that’s becoming increasingly paperless, many news organizations are struggling to keep afloat. If it seems like journalists are trying to sell stories and advertisements, it’s because they are.

“The person that owns the paper, owns the ink and has great influence on what is written,” said SHU library employee, Eileen Moffa.

It’s true. Bias almost makes sense for a newspaper as a business. People have biases. They want to read/hear the stories that matter most then them and their opinions. After all, reporters are people too. They have biases, even if they try to avoid them.

Would it just be easier to accept these biases and just have liberal and conservative papers? For cities that seems to work. In Pittsburgh, there is the Tribune-Review (conservative) and the Post-Gazette (liberal). On a national scale, the Washington Post is conservative and the New York Times is liberal.

If you tune into one of the many news networks, their writers and anchors appear to be the same way. “Fox News” seems to be more pro-Republican. And then there’s CNN, who seems to be pro-money. People want to trust what they hear or see. Why not trust a network or newspaper–it’s legitimate, unbiased facts? Right?

Facts can be completely true, but one sided. Is that bad? We tend to like to see at least two sides to every articles, but that doesn’t mean one sided articles are incorrect. You still lose something, though when you choose to only follow one side of the media (if the media is openly biased or not). As journalists, neglecting all the sides feels like a sell-out. If the choice is sell-out or don’t get a job, however, it might not matter.

None of this is new, but it’s a lot to think about as people who both consume and produce journalism. We tend to believe avoiding bias is necessary overall, in all aspects overall, but that doesn’t seem to be very realistic any more in our profession.

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