Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sometimes bias isn't bias but something that can produce a unique perspective

With all the accusations of bias in the media that have been flying around since Fox New set out its shingle, increasing exponentially since Obama came into office, you'd think that simply having a background or belief system that gives you a stake in an argument is enough to condemn you.

Not quite.

You may have to put more effort into making sure the arguments are factual, but simply coming from a particular point of view doesn't mean that the arguments themselves are necessarily bad. In fact, on a lesser level, you'd expect people who have stakes in an argument to potentially have unique insights onto why exactly their side is right. It cuts both ways....coal companies have their interests at heart, folks who come from historically oppressed communities have their interests at heart, and neither one is automatically right or wrong just because of where they come from. It's the facts themselves that undermine the coal companies, for example, and just because someone is from a bad off community doesn't necessarily mean that they're really putting the best arguments possible forward.

If you own your interest and point of view out there, and don't conceal it, but also write articles or produce other media that have some factual basis, then your voice can potentially be insightful in a unique way because you're qualified to give an opinion based on your own philosophy.

A truly liberal media personality would be able to present some of the best arguments and stories from a liberal perspective, for instance, and a conservative would be able to do the same, as well as socialists. Of course there's always the concern about falsification, but there could also be good arguments that you hadn't seen before.

Often, in the media it's the combination of money and bias that's the really objectionable thing. Folks can sort out the wheat from the chaff on their own with regards to arguments, but the coal industry can buy a lot more time to have its point of view pushed on the airwaves than a lefty, liberal, or person from a poor background. Coal can fund lots and lots of propaganda to push their bias, and Rupert Murdoch can establish a whole cable channel to push his pro-business conservative values, while the Left has to make due with what can be scrambled together in donations to the Pacifica network, stations like WBAI and KPFA. Regnery Press can pour seemingly unlimited funds into whatever conservative de jour they want to push, and reliably get them into major bookstores, but lefty publishing outfits face an uphill battle not only in just trying to survive but in getting their books distributed anywhere. I don't think relative popularity is the deciding factor here, or certainly quality, since Regnery creates authors and pushes them, no matter what the actual quality of their work is.

When bias is combined with hegemony, real problems start to arise.

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