Before I get started, I just wanted to say that I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I’ve been really busy with college/scholarship applications as well as finishing up senior year, which is my top priority right now. After all, if I don’t finish high school then that delays going to college which results in a major road block in my journey to journalism. Anyway, here’s my two cents on what it takes to be unbiased. I hope you enjoy it!
The public criticizes the media for being biased, only showing one side of the story, or favoring one side of a controversy over the other. As an aspiring journalist and, a Christian, I really struggled with the issue of, “How do I report unbiasedly?” After all, my whole “mantra” is that I strive to be a journalist who reports “nothing but the truth.”
I have learned that no matter what your religion, ethnicity, and background is, we all have a biased. It seemed that, unless I worked for a Christian publication, I would not be able to thrive in this industry. How do I maintain my standards as a Christian, yet not let that influence the point of view I come from when I am dealing with a controversial issue? I then embarked on a little detour from my “journey to journalism” and started on a journey (which is far from over) to discover: How to be unbiased.
When first asked what does it mean to be unbiased, after giving it A LOT of thought, I came up with: To show both sides of the story. That is the clearest, most straightforward definition I can give and while it seems like common sense, it takes a lot to truly put this into action.
Over time, I developed my resolution a little more. I learned that while you should definitely cover both sides of the story, you need to, more specifically, take the time to look at the issue from the other side. If you are reporting on a law suit, of course you would look into the grounds of the suit and why the plaintiff filed that suit in the first place. But, what if the tables were turned?
For example, say a group of teenagers sued an organization for not hiring individuals under the age of 20. As a journalist, I would cover the feelings of the teenagers; why they filed the suit? And I would need to cover how the organization feels. What was their reasoning behind setting this particular age restriction? (Step 1: Covered both sides of the story?-Check!) But then I could go even deeper. Let’s just pretend that the teenagers were also part of their own rock band. What if the 60-something year old CEO of the organization want to join their band? And their response was, “NO! this band is for teenagers only!” Would that then give the CEO a good reason to sue the teenagers? If no, then is it really fair for the teenagers to be suing the organization in the first place? (Step 2: Took the time to look at the issue from the other side?-Check!). Okay, I know that example is pretty extreme and ridiculous but I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. When you put these two steps together, you not only get both sides of the story but then you also challenge yourself to see how different or similar the situation would be if things were the other way around.
Now, I’m not only talking about being unbiased in the media as a reporter but dealing with those you disagree with in everyday life. One of the many life lessons that I’ve learned from taking Speech and Debate is that the focus should not be on winning or proving one side wrong. When that’s your focus, whether it be in the media or in your own home, you set yourself up to be so consumed and frustrated when things don’t go your way. Instead, one needs to focus on the way he’s debating, or in my case, the way I am presenting the truth.
Now that you’ve heard my spiel, what do you think? What are the characteristics/steps of being unbiased? Is it even possible to be unbiased? Comment below!