• Determining Bias   Image result for extra extra read all about it 

     

     We have a tendency to think that because something is in print, it is true.  Believe it or not, "truth" is sometimes arbitrary and often controversial.  We each hold beliefs, values, and attitudes that we believe to be true.  We assume things about others that we believe are true.  However, our assumptions may not be "truths";  similarly, the values, attitudes, and beliefs that we hold, may not be 'true' for others.  Writers often hold their own views or "truths" about particular topics and as a writer, their purpose is to inform or convince you the reader that their position is the correct or "true" position.  The writer wants you to accept his/her idea, opinion, judgement, or point of view.  He/she makes a claim which serves as the overall argument he/she is trying to make.  The writer supports his/her claim with reasons (shared beliefs, assumptions, values) and evidence (facts, examples, statistics, and authorities or experts).  As a writer, you know that you are often asked to make an argument and support it.  The same process exists for the writers who create the texts and articles you read for school or for entertainment.  Web sites, on-line articles, sports magazines, beauty magazines, etc. all use the same process of creating an argument (thesis) and supporting it with reasons (details, examples, beliefs, experts, etc).  As a reader, you must question the text in a way that does not merely accept all things as "true"  Consider that the text may have certain biases.  To determine possible biases/perspectives of a particular text, you should consider the following:

    1.  Some papers and authors have a reputation for giving a particular view or slant on the news. 
         Become familiar with authors, newspapers, news networks, web sites and explore if they are aligned with a particular political viewpoint or ideology.
    2.  Examine the language used by the writer/news outlet to describe or refer to a particular group of people. Is the language hurtful, limited, or used to
         construct a negative perception about the person/people in the article?  Is it used to create a favorable perception?
    3.   Look for 'buzz words" or words used to evoke an emotional reaction.
    4.  Examine how the writer is appealing to you the reader.  Does the writer try to identify with you or label you or others?
    5.  Observe the physical placement of the stories (front page, back page, top, bottom, etc).
    6.  Consider how people are portrayed through pictures.  A picture can make someone look good, bad, lazy, hard-working, sneaky, etc. 
           Ask yourself what impression the photo gives?  Is it necessarily accurate?  Is it used to represent a group of people and not just one person. 
          (ex:  a picture of a man sleeping on a park bench.....is it used to 'say' that Americans are lazy?)
    7.  Where did the statistics come from?  Who conducted the research? Who funded the research? 
    8.  Is there evidence of a racial, gender, class cultural bias? Is there a lack of diversity in the article or company?
    9.  for words that indicate that certain ideas or practices are "natural, normal, inherent, or true."     
          The use of the word is often used to lure readers into thinking that there is a simple reason as to why things occur. Using words such as natural and true
          are effective because they work on the notion that  if certain things, behaviors, ideas, practices are natural,  they cannot be argued or debated because
          they are "true".  Remember, that "truth" is arbitrary and often controversial.  We cannot merely reduce our arguments to a statement that proclaims it is
          natural or true without exception. 
    10. Are there double standards?  Do media hold some people to one standard while using a different standard for other groups?
    11. What are the unchallenged assumptions?  What is being implied?
    12. Do the headlines and stories match? 
    13. Is there a lack of context?  (Ex:  Many stories about Hurricane Katrina did not examine the racial and classed aspects of the tragedy of Katrina.)      
          What information is missing? Who was impacted by the incomplete aspects of the story?  How?   Why?  Does the article examine who loses?  Who 
          benefits?  Is it written in a way that influences "who loses," or who might benefit from the article and the tone and representations in the article?

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Last Modified on August 26, 2018