Last I checked, all newspaper, radio, Internet, and television reporters are human. The same holds true for commentators, bloggers, editors, publishers, photographers, videographers, and the guy or gal that delivers your paper. Being human, they have world views, attitudes, passions, slants, frustrations, agendas, causes, special interests, conflicts of interest, cognitive dissonance, interpersonal relationships, and contractual obligations. In other words, they are biased.
Some are honest about it, others are not.
As consumers of news, we have a responsibility to recognize this. I trust the honest ones, but I don’t trust anyone who says they are free of bias. You shouldn’t either. We counter this absolutely normal human quality by selecting and considering a variety of news sources. We learn to ignore the dishonest ones, or listen with an always skeptical mind. Why pay heed to someone that does not tell the truth? How do you ever know when to believe a dishonest person?
Bias is a good thing. Honesty about one’s biases is refreshing.
Fair is an odd word that often surfaces in this same conversation. It is quite possible to be both biased and fair, but dishonesty is never fair. Fair is usually in the eye of the beholder. What seems fair to me, might not seem fair to someone else. It is hard if not impossible to be fair to everyone. We usually appreciate such an effort, but we don’t always appreciate the consequences.
On most mornings my iPad and my coffee help me clear the cobwebs. To get the news, I scan various online news organizations and publications. After determining whether the world has come to an apocalyptic end while I was sleeping, I then read opinion pieces, editorials, and various blogs because I enjoy the provocations of these honest writers who are not embarrassed to tell you what they think. I find it fascinating to read completely different perspectives about the same news item or issue.
Over the years, I’ve become quite selective in my choice of news sources. In addition to respecting the opinions of certain commentators who are honest about their biases, I do not respect, nor do I continue to read or listen to others. The following are obvious indicators or characteristics of news sources and opinionators that I do not respect.
They demonize those with whom they disagree.
They are condescending and arrogant in their tone.
They exaggerate and sensationalize to push their agendas.
They are ignorant about the issues they address.
They are unencumbered by the facts.
Come to think of it, I don’t vote for people like this either.