When I was in college studying journalism, my professors loved to talk about being unbiased in reporting and the importance of giving all sides a fair opportunity. That sounds great until you realize that not all sides of an issue are credible. Should those who deny that the Holocaust ever happened be given the same weight as victims of Nazi brutality? Does a child rapist deserve the same credibility as a police officer or scientific expert?
In college, I challenged the notion of true objectivity then because I didn’t believe it was humanly possible. And I still hold to that belief today years after working as a reporter and publisher. It can be almost impossible to recognize our own biases.
I believe people can be somewhat fair. And that requires hard work because it is difficult to truly listen when we disagree with what someone is saying. I think listening is the most important skill a journalist needs to develop. I am always suspicious of people who claim to have held their biases in check. Can we really ever know how much our biases are impacting our thoughts and actions in our subconscious mind?
News reports love to paint one group as biased while other people have pure motives. One of the more recent examples involves news coverage of environmental issues, especially global warming. I don’t know what I think yet about that issue. But I do know that those who question the science behind it are vilified and lampooned. It seems that the eco groups can do no wrong. But are their motives completely pure?
Don’t scientists have egos? Don’t researchers need a crisis to ensure funding? Don’t eco groups need an enemy to convince people to give them money? I believe that all sides to the climate debate have financial and personal reasons to fight for their beliefs. Some may also have noble, ideological reasons as well. It just bothers me when reporters contrast two sides and portray one as completely pure when that is far from accurate.
For those who are willing to listen to a different view than Al Gore’s documentary on global warming, consider the following film. I don’t know which one to believe. They both make good points.