CBC: Curbing The Bias

February 1st, 2012 - J. Hodgson 

One of the stranger developments in left-wing orthodoxy has been the slow elimination of any sense of ideology amongst the subscribers of the left-wing worldview. Typically, the new left self-identifies as "progressive", "moderate", and "centrist". These semantics have allowed left-wingers to be left-wingers without the notion of ideology attached to their points of view.

Left-wingers have not just adopted this language cynically, they've internalized it completely. As a result, many left-wingers - especially the younger ones - are unaware of their standing on

the political spectrum. They think left-wing policies are naturally "progressive", "moderate" and "centrist". This has led them to believe that any ideology that doesn't conform to what they see as self-evident truths must be "regressive", "extreme" and "fringe".

Why does this matter within the context of the CBC? It matters because the bias that is so obvious to so many, is completely hidden from the minds of the people perpetuating the bias at the CBC. They don't consciously realize the bias they bring to the table. When criticism arrives, they are confused and surprised. Why? Because it didn't occur to them that what they presented was biased in the first place.

More emphasis needs to be given to self-evaluation in order to guard against bias. How to do this? Question your assumptions! By the time you become a legal adult, you are bound to have an opinion about the world in which you live. The problem for media types is that they allow their worldview to colour their profession. This happens naturally to everyone, but with media (especially taxpayer funded media), this natural tendency can anger a lot of people who disagree with you. The way to guard against your own natural inclinations is to dig deep and question your own assumptions. This is tough because it requires you to anticipate things that don’t naturally occur to you. In other words, you have to ‘know what it is you don’t know’. How do you do this? Step outside yourself! This is incredibly difficult for anyone to do. It requires you to go against your own instincts. As a media organization, the CBC needs to think about all angles to a story.

Kirsta Erickson of the SunNews Network has criticised the mainstream media in Canada, for being “a big echo chamber” – everyone chasing the same stories with the same attitudes and interests. This makes for “consensus media“. Take the time to talk to other people with other points of view. Not just He said/She said clip grabbing, but real consideration for all the angles involved. Ask people outside the media what they think about a given story. Listen to what people say when the cameras aren’t rolling. One thing that used to strike me when I was working in media full time, was how reporters and producers and editors would talk about a story amongst themselves. They were often cynical, dismissive, skeptical and wry. This often betrayed their liberalism. When the stories appeared in the papers or on television or over the radio, they transformed it all into standard liberal orthodoxy. Why didn’t they bring that same sense of outside the box thinking to their professional work? Why not ask the questions that aren’t politically correct? Why not do a story with a different focus? Why not? Because to be politically correct is to be liberal, and to be liberal is to be centrist and to be centrist is to be objective. This doesn’t just make for biased news...it makes for bland news.

CBC needs to take other perspectives into account in order to avoid not only bias, but blandness. Expand your horizons! As more and more sources and outlets for media arrive in the 21st century, the focus can, unfortunately, become narrower and narrower. As a result, people can tend to look deeper inward. This circles back to liberals not realizing that they’re liberals. If all you do is read liberal sources of news because it conforms to your worldview, then you run the risk of losing touch with the broader picture. What’s worse is that you fail to realize that you’re losing touch, because you believe yourself to be well informed. So well informed, that when presented with alternative points of view, your instinct is to defend against them. Objective journalism doesn’t defend against points of view. It presents a balanced perspective. This is in pursuit of the highest form of journalism. The reporting of fact and context and research and background rolled up into information that the audience is able to digest for their own benefit.

So read wild editorials, visit blogs you would never think of visiting, and talk to people you don’t agree with. Humble yourself and put it into your work. It’ll make your work better. The CBC is a taxpayer funded organization. People work hard for a living and pay taxes for the luxury (yes...luxury) of having a state financed broadcaster. Rather than petulantly defending entitlements, the CBC should maximize the quality of the work and humbly serve the interests of all Canadians. The interests of all Canadians, in the context of the CBC, is information and entertainment. When bias can’t be eliminated it should, at least, be balanced. This is a very hard task to follow, but the CBC must be held to a higher standard than any other media outlet, due to the taxpayer funding they receive. The CBC is a valuable cultural institution that need not get bogged down in issues of bias. If the above 5 points are kept in mind on a day to day basis, then the quality of CBC production is bound to improve. If the quality improves, the allegations of bias will begin to appear unfounded.