I hate ‘neutral’ news outlets and yet they don’t exist.
That’s because every news outlet has a bias. That is inevitable. The only news outlet that comes even near to having no bias is Drudge Report and let’s face, it’s not a text heavy site…
News doesn’t have to be neutral any longer. We don’t all get our news from the same 2 or 3 radio or TV channels anymore. We pick and choose from hundreds of thousands of web, tv and radio outlets and gravitate to the ones that fit our innate bias and preferences. We like having our own prejudices reaffirmed.
Because of this, I would argue that it would be better if news outlets just stopped trying to be neutral. BBC News has a bias and because they think they’re not biased, they’ve ended up with a bias they’re not aware of. This vexes me so much more than outlets who have biases I don’t agree with.
The Daily Mail and Fox News are unabashed about having a bias and they do what they do very well. They are incredibly good at engaging the people who consume news from them. These individuals return again and again to their outlets. It appears to me that the reason Fox News became as aggressive as it is was because other news outlets were so adamantly calling themselves neutral when they weren’t. Most journalists in the US are liberal arts graduates, have a moderate liberal bias and, until the inception of Fox News, lacked seemingly all introspective analysis.
I think the reason deliberately biased outlets work so well is because admitting your bias gives you freedom. If I were told to write a neutral article on China’s ‘one child’ policy it would be a lot harder to write than if I wrote an article on China’s ‘one child’ policy with my own bias (I think it’s abhorrent, if you were wondering…).
We’ve got to stop thinking of bias as a dirty word. Bias used to be synonymous with poor quality but I don’t know if that has ever truly been the case. Jezebel has a strong liberal (US) bias but it’s content is usually incredibly novel and high quality. BBC News has a liberal bias and it’s decline is painful to watch… Channel 4 News is similarly biased and is increasingly impressing me with it’s depth and quality. The Times and The Sun are both owned by the same owner, both hold a right-leaning bias but are of noticeably different qualities.
If you’re not neutral don’t pretend to be. Forgo the pretense and strive for quality.