Unbiased Language by xiaoyounan


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Vanek, Paper #2

                                                                                       Abigail Vanek

                                                                                    October 13, 2010

                                                          Communications/Media Ethics – COMM415

                                                                                             Paper #2

                               Everyone is entitled to Their Opinion

       In today’s world of easily accessible media, unbiased journalism is extremely difficult to

come by. Every person whether they are aware of it or not, is affected by the media. Every

person is also biased in some way or another. We are biased because of many different factors.

Most of these factors are things we cannot control, such as our gender, race or the socio-

economic class we grew up in. Our parents also play a large role in shaping our views on the

world. If a person is a male Caucasian born into a wealthy family, they are to see the world

differently than an underprivileged African American female. These types of bias undoubtedly

stretch into the media and affect how different people portray certain news events.

       One of the main factors affecting a person’s bias is their gender. Gender is something that

we cannot control; you are either born a man or a woman. From the very first day of our lives

our gender affects whether our parents will dress us in blues or pinks and how they act towards

us. Boys will often be viewed as tough and strong while girls are seen as sweet and innocent.

Gender has greatly affected our education system. Women have been involved in a 300 year

fight against gender bias until 1767, when a school in Rhode Island advertised that it would teach

reading and writing to women (Owens 1). Many cities began to divide schools with boys and

girls on separate floors and later same sex schools came about. And finally in 1972 Congress

added Title IX to the Education Amendment stating: "No person in the United States shall, on

the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to

discrimination under any educational programs or activity receiving federal assistance" (Owens
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1). According to Owens, in 1994, women received 38 percent of the medical degrees, compared

with 9 percent in 1972; 43 percent of the law degrees, compared with 7 percent in 1972; and 44

percent of all doctoral degrees, compared to 25 percent in 1977. Women still struggle with the

fact that men are taken more seriously than women. Even though women have come a long way

they still must prove themselves so their voice can be heard.

        This graph shows that the gender gap increases in higher grades. And I found it very

interesting that males have always had a higher percent compared to woman in the area of


                  Table 1 - Computer use at home and at work, by gender (1989 and 1994)
                                                                    1989                    1994
                                                             Male       Female       Male       Female
Percent who have a home computer                             18%         15%         30%           25%
Mean number of hours spent using home computer                6.7         5.4         7.1          5.3
Percent who use a computer at work                           31%         38%         43%           52%
Mean number of hours spent using work computer               13.1        17.3        16.2          19.1
N, home computer use: 1989, Males=4,201, Females=5,132; 1994, Males=5,271, Females=6,380.N, work-place
computer use: 1989, Males=2,978, Females=2,679; 1994, Males=3,325, Females=2,970. Source: General Social
Survey 1989 (Cycle 4: Education and Work) and 1994 (Cycle 9: Education, Work, and Retirement).
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          Do women see themselves accurately reflected on television, in film, in advertising, and

in print and broadcast news? No they do not because only 3% of media decision-makers - those

with enough clout to determine content - are female, according to Linda Lowen. Women have to

be very careful of the decisions they make while communicating in the media because there is

much more pressure on them to succeed than there is on men. This is an example of how the

media industry can be biased. Since women only control 3% of what is being communicated

through the media, clearly there is going to be a certain level of male-geared stories portrayed.

This does not necessarily mean that all stories told through the media are about things that only

men will be interested in. However, it is another example of an opportunity for journalism to be


          Another factor that affects the way we communicate is our socio-economic status. People

in lower socio-economic status groups do not have as much access to education, media, and

technology. Since lower socio-economic status groups lack many resources their overall opinions

and the decisions they make are different from those with more opportunities. For example,

when they vote for the Presidential Election; lower socio-economic groups do not have the

knowledge as others with more access to the media. People of lower socio-economic status

communicate from a biased stand point based upon their life experiences.

          Another factor that affects our outlook on the world that we cannot control is our race and

ethnicity. In America minorities continue to face many hardships on their battle to equality.

Caucasians might feel entitled to more of the opportunities that America has to offer, while

minorities still struggle to prove themselves. According to the Washington Post, more than six in

10 African Americans now rate race relations as "not so good" or "poor," while 53 percent of
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Vanek, Paper #2

whites hold more positive views. This is an ongoing issue in the society that we live in and even

though slow progress is being made there still is much effort needed to minimize the race bias.

       A recent story in the media was Republican Christine O’Donnell who is currently

running for US Senate in Delaware. A story broke last month regarding O’Donnell’s “dabbling

in witchcraft”. There was a clip from 1999 where O’Donnell was a guest on “Politically

Incorrect” hosted by Bill Maher. In the video clip, O’Donnell says she “dabbled in witchcraft but

never joined a coven”. She admitted to hanging around “witches”. I took the time to compare

the views of Democrats and Republicans on this issue. Fox News Channel (FNC) has the slogan

that the news they report on is ‘Fair & Balanced’ however they tend to lean conservatively. One

of its news channel counterparts, Cable News Network (CNN) is known to be more liberal in its

bias. For example, both networks reported on Christine O’Donnell, while FNC seemed to defend

her and CNN chastised her actions as another example of corrupt Republicans.

               I grew up in a middle class family as a female and that has been a major factor in

molding me into the person I am today. I had opportunities to educate myself in Catholic

schooling and through life experiences I have formed my own opinions and developed my

personal biased language. While many people communicate and share similar thoughts and

ideas, the overall opinion of every person is their own. Your bias is much like your fingerprint it

is impossible to share the exact same opinions of another person.
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Vanek, Paper #2

       There are many factors that shape who we are and how we think. I feel that gender,

socio-economic status, and race are three of the most important uncontrollable factors. Even if

someone believes they are being unbiased and stating the facts through communication there is

no way for them to control their personal opinions. It is possible to alter the way you report a

story but every person will always have their personal view.
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Vanek, Paper #2

                                                                                   Abigail Vanek

                                                                                        Paper #2


Cohen, Jon, and Jennifer Agiest. "3 in 10 Americans Admit to Race Bias." The
  Washington Post. The Washington Post Company, n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2010.

Grier, Peter. "Latest challenge facing Christine O'Donnell: Witchcraft TV Clip."
   Christian Science Monitor 20 Sept. 2010: n. pag. Web. 8 Oct. 2010.

Lowen, Linda. "Gender Bias and Its Impact on Education, Business, Politics and
  Society." About.com. The New York Times Publisher, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

Owens, Sherry Lynn, Bobbie C Smothers, and Fannye E. Love. "Are Girls Victims of
  Gender Bias in our Nation's Schools?" BNET. CBS News, 2010. Web. 10 Oct.
  2010. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCG/is_2_30/ai_105478982/

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