Friday, January 20, 2017

Media Bias: An International Trend

Now that Mr. Trump is the Tweeter-n-Chief, it’s appropriate to reflect a bit on the state of the media. Mr. Trump, among others was very vocal in criticism of his treatment at the hands of the media. The NY Times Sunday, 15 January 2017 ran an article “Learning to Speak Al Jazeera” (see:, which is also the photo source).

The thesis of the article is that almost every media outlet is biased and has its own agenda. I did a bit of research to quantify Media Bias a bit more and came across an article in the Student News Daily (see:, which listed the following types of Media Bias:
  1. By omission
  2. By selection of sources
  3. By story selection
  4. By placement
  5. By labeling
  6. By spin

In my view this is a pretty good list and could relate to how most people gauge their every day interactions. But these are not the only kinds of bias.

Yesterday (19 January 17) I was in a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Class (MCLE). As a California attorney I am required to take 25 credits of MCLE in a 3-year period. Of these 6 hours are required:
  • Legal Ethics: 4 hours (required)
  • Competence Issues (formerly known as Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Substance Abuse or Mental Illness): 1 hour (required)
  • Recognition and Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession and Society: 1 hour (required)
As it turns out I was earning my Elimination of Bias credit, which ironically is very hard to get, when our instructor pointed out that there were two kinds of bias – the kind you know about, and the kind you don’t (hidden).

Hidden bias is, according to our instructor, the most insidious of all. She referred to Harvard’s Project Implicit a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on hidden biases (see: They even offer an on-line implicit association test (IAT) test so that you can do some self-calibration. I took one of these tests and upon reflection, its result was not a big surprise or hidden.
In comparing my results with all others who have taken the test I was in the largest group – 30% of the total, the next largest were 24, 19 and 18.

In summarizing what does all this mean.

There are personal and professional biases. You are not very likely going to be able to change personal biases. However, being aware of your biases in your professional life is something to work on. The instructor relayed that training on hidden bias was mandatory. As a result of the training one of the attorneys decided to use a ‘duty roster’ to assign work to his Associates in a more organized and fair manner.

For we in the PSYOP/MISO community, it is vital that we recognize the lenses of our professional and personal biases as we approach our missions. We need to filter these as best as we can in order to be more attuned to our target audiences and better able to accomplish our mission.

As always, reader comments are encouraged.

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