How to minimize biases in our reporting

Where we are from, our gender, religion, family, friends…etc. can affect our reporting and the way we view things. The fact that I am a female, a Muslim, and Arab American has effects on how I view the world. Even though a lot of times we try to get rid of these biases, we will still end up with some unconscious biases.

As mentioned in a video titled How Journalist Minimize Bias, we need to be aware of our biases and the facts that could affect the way we view the world. Also, collecting different resources about the reported subject will minimize the biases in our reporting because we are exposed to different angles of the same story. Lastly, talking to different people regarding the reported subject will give us different insights of the story which can minimize our biases as well.

To balance our reporting, we need to focus on the process of collecting different sources, talking to different people with different perspectives, and being aware of our own biases and what could affect our reporting such as ethnicity, gender, religion,…etc.


This is an image of a video titled How Journalists Minimize Bias which includes different ways to help minimize biases in reporting and writing.


Do you know your freedom of information rights?

Reading about Digital Journalist’s Legal Guide made me realize how many rights journalist has. FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act.

The guide states that people have legal rights to open records, for example, police misconduct, how the government spends taxpayer money and any kind of traffic records. People also have the right for open public meetings such as meetings of commissions, councils, and boards.

When it comes to news gathering reporters have limited rights. Reporters can come to a news scene but it depends on whether the property is public, non-public or private. The owners of private property usually have more control over who accesses their property. Public properties have a place and time to when reports can come and access the property.

A journalist should always know their rights when reporting and also be sure about the information that they publish. If publishing a false document, it could affect a reputation and could lead to criminal charges and be taken into court.

Anything that the government does, including salaries and information on money as a citizen you are allowed to ask for the information, and they have 20 days to respond to your request.


Being biased sure doesn’t pay off

Ethics really does play a big role in one’s everyday communications and overall viewpoints in life.

When journaling or reporting on topics and issues, one’s unique writing skills will be influenced by one’s ethics as well. This is why being non-biased really does play a major part in getting the correct information because facts are a must.pexels-photo-373076.jpeg(free art from Google library)

Being non-biased while reporting allows the writer to focus more on facts than feelings; now don’t get me wrong, I personally believe all stories should have a sense of feeling, but it can also hinder a writers viewpoint. I, myself as a writer, have fallen victim to writing under emotions toward a story which needed more attention on the facts than the overall issue at hand. When reporting, one can easily hinder their own story by not paying attention to being a non-bias and letting their own feeling affect the fact.

I watched a video on how “Jouranalists Minimize their own Bias,” and i found it to be very helpful because it touched on fact checking, credibility and the importance of not being bias when writing.

Got facts?

Verification is essential in journalism. Verification is the process of checking facts to determine if they are accurate or not. Journalists need to set verification on the top of their revision-to-do-list because it is not only a large part of ethics but it is also a large part of their careers.

It takes a lot to build a journalist’s credibility but it only takes one false statement to destroy it too. The audience must learn to trust this writer, from the first story they write to their 100th one. When you lose the trust you had between and your readers, it deteriorates your credibility.

This can happen when you don’t verify facts in your story. Verification before it all takes place sounds pretty good then, right?

My data story on post graduate success covering multiple colleges and alumni’s salaries had verification behind it. For example, “University of Pennsylvania are close behind in which alumni are earning more than $163,000,” is an important fact I brought up in my story because it allows comparison of Ivy League graduates to regular university graduates. In order to include this fact in my story, I had to make sure that multiple sources were stating the same information. As you could probably tell, it was a fact that was supported by more than one reliable source so I added it in.

Got facts? Because with verification you will make sure you do!

What’s fair- ethics drive journalism

SPJ included a video of journalists in one of their articles who spoke on the topic of ethics where one of them mentioned that though journalists are trying to remain neutral, they do in reality have opinions. However, accuracy is more important and is a priority above all else, one journalist simply says it’s “what’s fair.”

SPJ includes a video in their article on what journalists think about bias.

As a reporter, a journalist tries to get every perspective. One source cannot run a story because it is begging for bias. Sources must be verified and reporters do this by going to more than one source to check and balance their stories. One journalists puts it like this; If a mother had a child who did something wrong and said that that same child was a straight A student and never got into any trouble with the law, one can’t quickly take her word for it. Rather, it’s important to go to the child’s school and police department to check out those sources as well. It might not be that the parent is lying, yet she may be overcome with grief and feel as if she has to prove her child is pure, just like most parents think their children are.

SPJ gives examples of different articles and how they fit ethical journalism.

SPJ puts it clearly: “SPJ Code of Ethics- seek truth and report it, act independently, minimize harm, and be accountable and transparent.”

SPJ’s perspective on what ethical journalism calls for.