Bias is prevalent in the media, especially the Australian Media. With media ownership split just about right down the middle, we get one side spouting nonsense, and the other side spouting opposing but just as ridiculous nonsense. As journalists, is it our duty to be impartial? Is it even possible to be completely impartial?
An article on this very subject, pertaining to Iranian journalists, was published online by khabarnegaran.info. In the article, the author (who will go unfortunately unnamed since alas, I cannot read Arabic) speaks about the conflicting schools of thought between those who believe impartiality should be central and those who believe it does not exist in the real world.
Yiannis Baboulias, a Greek journalist from the London School of Economics and Political Science, discusses the pressure put on journalists and the media under oppressive regimes. It’s very difficult to be un-bias when threatened with death or imprisonment after all.
David Brewer from Media helping Media, outlines the difference between opinion and fact, and the importance of keeping a firm line between the two. When strong emotions are involved, it’s easy for the author to present there strongly-held beliefs as fact. This is perfectly acceptable, if, of course, they can back it up with sources of hard evidence.
For those of us who need an example of what not to do, The Economist comments on the state of America’s Fox News, and delves into the history of Impartiality in Journalism. You may be surprised to find that Impartiality has not always been the golden rule of Journalism, but rather one adopted by editors after a deal struck with advertising agencies to promote a wider audience. This rather cynical and capitalist history is almost in direct opposition to the bastion of morality Impartiality in Journalism has come to symbolise these days.