Bias

Merriam-Webster defines bias as "an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment".

When people discuss the media, or more specifically the "main stream media" (MSM) the term bias is used frequently. However, bias does not mean that a report isn't factual. Everyone has biases, they begin at birth. Through people's experiences, the experiences of their family, their educational background, their culture and social networks people will naturally develop a perspective on the world and all of those perspectives come with bias.

Usually when people refer to bias in the media they are referring to politics, but it is deeper than that. For example, an American reporter is more likely to be pro-American regardless of their political leanings. A reporter from the UK, Germany, Israel or Iran is likely to be biased in favor of their homeland and their country - even if it is in very subtle and subconscious ways. Christian reporters are likely to be pro-Christian, Jewish reporters pro-Jewish, Reporters from Texas are likely to be more favorable toward Texas and all of this (plus a thousand other things) contribute to a person's bias and impacts their world view.

In the case of news organizations there are a number of biases at work, including that of writers, editors and the organization itself. News organizations, like any other business, have customers and a market niche and they learn to give their customers the information they want; the information that leads them to buy more newspapers, magazines, to download podcasts and watch newscasts. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, unless it is taken to extremes and the organization stops caring if the information they provide is true or not. Telling people what they want to hear, even if it isn't true is unethical and dangerous to democracy and civil society. Providing people with only the information they want without regard to important information they may need is also problematic. (For example: Telling people that the band is still playing but failing to mention that the ship is sinking.)

When Media Bias/Fact Check, whose ratings I used in creating this site, talks about bias they are not talking about "fake news", they are talking about the way a publication chooses and writes stories. For example, a publication with a left-center bias will be more likely to publish articles that appeal to a moderate to liberal audience and use "loaded" words in telling those stories. In this case, loaded refers to "wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes." A right-center publication will do the same thing for a moderate to conservative audience. None of this means the stories aren't true.

Bias is an unavoidable part of the human experience. It is so unavoidable that we may not be able to get rid of it in artificial intelligence designed by humans. Asking for unbiased information is asking for the near-impossible. The best you can hope for is to try to be aware of the biases of a journalist or publication and to insist on the accuracy of what is said.