Make your Bias Known

19 March 2021

Jeff McCarty

Our ability to communicate is one of our key strengths as human beings. Wielding the ability to communicate in complex ways that can break the bounds of time and even reality, we have found our way to the top of the evolutionary food chain. Another key distinction of our communication skills is in the ability to communicate in mass numbers. That is what has made us so successful as a species, is this ability to communicate between mass groups of humans, and for relatively everyone to be aware and on board with that communication. There is only so much that can be communicated orally though. Even though there are plenty of cultures with rich traditions of telling stories solely through an orator, there are limits to this approach. The main limitation is human memory. Someone can be a great orator and even have an astounding memory for a human, but at some point, there will be a limit in the number of stories a great orator can remember and tell. Another limitation was that stories weren’t the only things trying to be remembered. As the agriculture revolution took hold and more and more humans were living in larger bands, there were more and more records to keep.

The question of how to keep track of all this data is what spurred the creation of the innovation field label as media. Media can be defined as any tool or innovation that helps humans in communicating. I make this specific distinction of what media is due to a common confusion that occurs when the concept of media is discussed. Most people, when using the term media, are referring to corporations that use the tools of media to communicate their business’s viewpoint or mission. For example, you can look at a corporation like FOX or MSNBC and see that they are an organization that uses the tools of media to report on current events. They are not media in itself; they use media to get their job done.

This distinction is important to understand if we are to embrace the power of media while understanding that the flaws of a corporation that uses media are not rooted in the power of the tool itself. Many people have a bent towards corporations that use media. To easily label and discuss these types of organizations I prefer the term Mainstream Media. This is a commonplace term that many will understand and will understand what the term is representing. When evoking such a word, many will show their dismay for the organizations that are labeled as Mainstream Media.

Some would like to point to the previous president Donald Trump as the initiator of anti-mainstream media sentiment. For anyone paying attention though, a distrust of Mainstream Media has been on the rise for some time. Both left- and right-wing fringes have been critical advocates against Mainstream Media at different points in history, seeing it as a tool of the system for pushing out propaganda. So, what has changed you may ask. Mainly that the anti-mainstream media sentiments have spread from more than just a fringe viewpoint and have become a focal point of the public conversation. Perhaps this could be the fault of previous president Trump for intensifying this viewpoint and bringing it front and center.

The question remains though, what is the issue that people have with Mainstream Media. From what I can gather the largest complaint I can find about Mainstream Media, is that they are biased in some form or another. Simply put they lean towards one ideology set more strongly than others, and this bias is seen in the content that they create and publish. The issue in this is that most of the organizations that fit the descriptor of Mainstream Media are News Outlets (or at least are supposed to be), and the News is supposed to be an objective telling of the events of the day and the facts. When you have an ideological bent in one direction or another though this makes it hard to fulfill the purpose of objective fact telling.

This has become the fundamental flaw of the Mainstream Media organizations and in turn, will be the demise of these organizations. More and more people are seeing behind the veil of sensationalized headlines to the strings that lead back to the biased puppet masters. Is there any way out of this conundrum? There is only one way that I see out of this predicament, that is for all organizations that fit the mold of Mainstream Media (you know who you are) to make their biases known to the world. If viewers knew that X media organization has Y ideological bent which explains why headline Z and the following “news” story is being told in the way it is, then viewers could make a more conscientious choice to go learn more about that subject from other sources that hopefully have a different perspective due to a different ideological bent.

A move to make the biases of Mainstream Media known could have huge benefits in breaking humans out of their echo chambers. A move like this though would also have huge destabilizing effects on the economic models of these Mainstream Media organizations. Because of this, I am pessimistic that we will see these Mainstream Media organizations make a move of this nature (anytime soon at least). If it were up to me though, it would be mandatory for all Mainstream Media organizations to make their biases known.

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