Bias in Journalism … Truth Decay

Ever had one of those ‘eureka moments’ where you come across a previously unknown, or perhaps once known but now forgotten, piece of information that explains one of those ‘how on earth did we get here’ observations?

The QuipperyExample: how did we (and I can only speak for Canada and the USA) get to a place where balanced, unopinionated news is now (often) very biased journalism? Part of the answer, according to the video below (and numerous stories on the internet) was the introduction, in 2008, of Accountability Journalism.

Accountability Journalism was the brainchild (or perhaps given a voice by) Associated Press Bureau Chief, Ron Fournier. Mr. Fournier believed that the conventional press model – where both sides of an argument are entitled to equal weight – was no longer needed in journalism. In it’s place, he gave free reign to first-person emotive language in news reporting. Previously, this had been reserved for opinion editorials. He gave the journalist the power to decide what was factual and fair and whether or not to include an opposing opinion.

Is this a slippery slope where journalism becomes not an outlet for news, but becomes an interpretation of said news?
– Susan Duclos, Digital Journal, July 2008 –

Ten years later, the answer to the slippery slope question is ‘yes’:

Journalism in the U.S. has become more subjective and consists less of the detailed event- or context-based reporting that used to characterize news coverage.
– ‘Truth Decay,’ RAND –

Of course, the situation seems worse than it is if you consider there are roughly 12000 journalists in Canada and 33000 in the United States. The wackadoodle reporters are just the most visible.

Who tops your list of Journalists you trust the least? Who do you trust the most?

 

 

 

 

Due Process in the Time of #MeToo

PM Trudeau supports #MeToo – Until ‘Me, Too’

Initially, American President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced different opinions about the #MeToo Movement:

Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?
– President Donald Trump –

As women speak up, it is our responsibility to listen, and more importantly, to believe. Sexual harassment in business and in government is a systemic problem and it is unacceptable.
– Prime Minister Trudeau, World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland –

Then, in April 2018, a story surfaced with allegations that Trudeau had groped a female reporter in the year 2000. Trudeau avoided responding to the story, but on Canada Day weekend 2018, he finally said, “I remember that day in Creston well… I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all.”

Trudeau is said to have apologized to the journalist a day after the alleged groping. At the time, he was quoted as saying, “I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper I would never have been so forward.”

Trudeau was asked if there would be an investigation into the alleged incident (since he says his policy on sexual assault is zero tolerance). He responded: “I do not feel that I acted inappropriately in any way, but I respect the fact that someone else might have experienced that differently. Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate and a woman, particularly in a professional context, can experience it differently. We have to respect that.”

Could it be possible that Canada’s Prime Minister  and the American President have arrived at the same conclusion in acknowledging the need for Due Process? Should a politicians past haunt them? If so, why and for how long?

 

Opinion Dressed Up in ‘News’ Clothes

The QuipperyWhat we used to call the ‘News‘ isn’t really news anymore, is it!? Often it is simply ‘Opinion‘ dressed up in its ‘news’ clothes… and there is so much of it. It is hard not to be overwhelmed with the volume of information that you might have to digest in order to make a decision about something.

This is why people switch to the default mode –  ‘Confirmation Bias’. It makes life so much simpler. You can simply choose to read opinions that support what you’ve come to believe, and ignore the rest.

Terry Pratchett calls this type of ‘news’ – ‘olds’:

In short, what people think they want is news, but what they really crave is olds… Not news but olds, telling people that what they think they already know is true.
– Terry Pratchett; from the novel The Truth –

Are you Stuck in the Olds?

There is a wealth of information on the internet that can help you to explore fact based arguments that might take you beyond where your bias has parked you. Unfortunately, you have to dig pretty deep sometimes to find the information that supports a narrative that opposes the politically ‘correct’ arguments of the day.

The News is Worse but the World is Better

In the video that follows, Steven Pinker, Author and Harvard Professor discusses the basic paradox – news today seems worse than ever – but based on a number of key metrics, the world is better than it’s ever been. Pinker explores the data and makes the case for how can we tackle the world’s problems while not drowning in negativity.

Let’s explore bias.

What controversial issue do you feel strongly about? Would you be willing to seek out information that contrasted with your belief?