Sunday, 22 October 2006

Dealing with media bias

The BBC admitted behind closed doors to a strong liberal and anti-Christian bias. Rats! Somebody went and leaked the information, but I'm willing to bet the BBC will find a way to avoid dealing with it. Which is a shame.

I am becoming convinced that the only way to avoid media bias is to mix things up in the newsroom and on the editorial board. If your columnists or reporters have varied political and cultural leanings and are allowed to refute each other publicly, something approaching objectivity and a genuine search for the truth just might come out of the mix. And by allowing rants from different sides, you hold on to your partisan readership or audience. They tend to avoid moderate, balanced opinions, so giving them strong flavours from opposite ends of the spectrum should keep them coming back.

I offer as an example the Ottawa Citizen which has columnists ranging from the extreme right to unabashedly left and most of the spectrum inbetween. I just wish they'd argue with each other a little more often. It's fun and often informative. I'd also even out the weighting a bit more, but still, they're on the right track.

I do appreciate the dilemma the media face. Calm, objective, rational approaches aren't popular. If you don't believe me, take a look at the most popular blogs. They are almost all highly partisan and quite often nastily so. They rant. They rave. They demonize. They fling insults around with self-satsified abandon. And they always know what to say about every story the instant it breaks, which says to me that they are not great fans of research or deep thought. (There are a few exceptions, thank goodness, but they still tend to be openly partisan. They're just more reasonable about it and will tolerate dissent without getting apoplectic.)

So to all the newspaper editors and network executives who eagerly hang on my every word and are just dying for my advice on how to attain objectivity without alienating their partisan readers/audience, I would highly recommend diversifying the backgrounds of your journalists and let them have at each other.

No need to thank me. That's the freebie. Next time you pay.

Hat tip to Stubborn Facts.

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