Bias!
“That news source is garbage, it is so BIASED!”
“You are BIASED, how can I trust what you say?! “
Sound familiar?

Bias is a word that people throw around like a defense mechanism. However, the majority of people don’t understand the complexities of biases. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have internal biases that shape how we interact with the world. They are part of human nature, occur at conscious and subconscious levels, and are impossible to escape.

There is good news, though. Once you have an awareness of your own biases, as well as how biases manifest across different mediums, you can work around them and get a better grasp on reality.

Bias (noun)

1) a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned

2) unreasonably hostile feelings or opinions about a social group

Bias is everywhere, and bias is complex. Sometimes biases are easy to identify; other times, they are not as obvious.

 Bias comes into play in two ways with regard to Media Literacy. 

1) The first is the importance of recognizing our own biases to allow us to remain curious and open-minded without pre-determining or confirming what we want to believe. 

2) Second, is the importance of acknowledging and expecting bias in the media we encounter every day. 

* There is no perfect, unbiased source. As you can see in the infographic, there are several ways biases manifest.* 

Personal biases:

  • Affect the information we seek out; see “confirmation bias.”
  • Determine what we are inclined to believe.
  • Influence whether or not we research a topic further before believing a statement.
  • Guide our questioning process.

 

*Once you develop an awareness of your personal biases, it is up to you how they affect your judgment.

*Recognizing your personal biases can sometimes be embarrassing or humbling. The good thing is that you don’t have to tell anyone about them. As long as you have an awareness and understanding, you can navigate, consume, and disseminate information fairly. *

*If you choose not to acknowledge your personal biases, you may end up having a skewed view of reality, spreading false narratives, or worst of all–making decisions (hello, voting!) based on the wrong information.*

 Media biases:

We need to be aware of how media, in all forms, use bias to support their purpose and mission. News and media organizations are all susceptible to the same biases as individuals. Instead of making the media the “bad guy,” we need to slow down and be smart about understanding the media’s purpose and presentation. 

Media Biases:

  • Manifest in a variety of ways (see chart).
  • Are sometimes unintentional. 
  • Are other times intentional, to sway the audience to think a certain way.
  • Always have far-reaching consequences.

 

  • We have different goals. Theirs is to get you to consume information. Ours is to make sense of that information. 

  Here are a few basic reminders:

  • Remember that “media” and “news” are created by humans (for the most part. Don’t worry Bots, we’d never forget about you!).
  • All humans have instincts, bias, and motives. So not only are they susceptible to their own biases, but they must play into the biases of consumers to get attention.
  • The language you see used in news articles is purposeful. Try to recognize this and not let the language or presentation sway your thinking before you have an opportunity to think about all of the information, facts, and motivation of the creator.
  • It is unrealistic to expect the media to change the way they present information. Sharing information and news in an attention-grabbing way is necessary. Instead of avoiding things we don’t feel comfortable with, or assuming opposing viewpoints to be incorrect, we must check our bias so we can think critically about all the information. Instead of trying to force the media to change, we as consumers need to be more vigilant media consumers.

 

Some sites that explore bias:

A website where you can search different sources and see how their bias is ranked, based on a strict methodology.

An app that will help you see how headlines and pieces of news content are presented based on left or right bias.

 

 

If you would like to learn more about bias, check out some of these great organizations:

AllSides strengthens our democracy with balanced news, diverse perspectives, and real conversation. AllSides exposes people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so they can better understand the world — and each other. The balanced news coverage, media bias ratings, civil dialogue opportunities, and technology platform are available for everyone and can be integrated by schools, nonprofits, media companies, and more.

Meedan has a vision of a wider world web in which citizens can collaborate across languages. Today, the global web is increasingly diverse but living in silos defined by the oldest communications barrier: language. We look to a world where understanding facilitated by global conversation is a bit wider, deeper, and more effective. Untapped language communities represent new trading markets for content, ideas, knowledge, and lolcats.

MBFC’s aim is to inspire action and a rejection of overtly biased media. We want to return to an era of straight forward news reporting. MBFC follows a strict methodology for determining the biases of sources. Dave Van Zandt is the primary editor for sources. He is assisted by a collective of volunteers who assist in research for many sources listed on these pages. MBFC also provides occasional fact checks, original articles on media bias and breaking/important news stories, especially as it relates to USA politics.

Read Across the Aisle knows that we are living in filter bubbles. Most of the news and stories we see on social media are shared by our friends, who are—not surprisingly—very similar to us. We come away with the impression that our views are the predominant and correct ones, and we aren’t exposed to much of the news and stories that other people are seeing. This app will notice when you’ve gotten a little too comfortable in your filter bubble—and it’ll remind you to go see what other folks are reading. It is helping people break out of their filter bubbles with a simple nudge!

We want to hear from you! 

Tell us what bias means to you, how you’ve identified biases, or send us some examples of biases you see in the media and among friends/family. Your story might make it on to our site (with our permission, of course!)

Tell us your story!