Cultural bias in the media

Last night I had the privilege to moderate a panel titled “Cultural Bias in the Media.” This panel consisted of Dr. Melanie Stone, broadcasting professor, Charles Minshew, the Editor and Chief of the George-Anne (university paper), and Frenchie Jones, a freelance journalist with print and TV experience.

Prior to the forum the panelist received the following six starter questions.

  1. What do you believe is the purpose of free press in America?
  2. From a professional or collegiate standpoint, do you view the media as bias? If so, in what way?
  3. Do you think bias is derived from media presentation or audience perception?
  4. How does the media perpetuate or help alleviate stereotypes?
  5. What obligations do you think the media has to challenge social norms?
  6. What do you think the media could do to be more diverse?

Due to the flow of conversation and time restraints, all the questions were not addressed to the panel; however, their responses did touch on many of the above issues.

Below is a brief recap of the various themes I took away from this panel.

  • Diversity: If you want to alleviate some of the bias, perceived or otherwise, than more diversity is needed among decision makers or gatekeepers. A diverse workforce can become minute in comparison to diverse decision makers.
  • Consumerism: This is the one value all media outlets have in common. Media is a business, thus it strives for revenue.
  • Critical Thinking: We can not blame the media for everything. We have to become critical thinkers of the information presented and choose what we will or will not accept.
  • Objectivity: Ideally individuals will be objective in their story, yet their objectivity is still filtered through a frame of reference. Thus, we again must remember to be critical thinkers of what is being portrayed in the media. Objectivity is individualistic; accuracy is universal.
  • Individual power: We tend to forget that freedom of speech is applicable to both the media and individuals. If we do not agree with what is being distributed, whether it is via print or TV, than we can and should voice our concern.

These are just a few of the themes that resonated with me during the allotted time frame. Of course, the examples, along with questions and comments from audience members were thought provoking as well.

What are some of your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with any of the above statements? What would you add to this conversation?

Many thanks to the 45-50+ graduate and undergraduate students in attendance. Also to the Multicultural Center for including this panel on their Diversity Calendar. Looking forward to more great discussions to come.

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