There is no such thing as a “no spin zone.” I know this may come
as a shock to some who take the word of popular political
commentators as the 11 to 1,634 commandments, but everyone has some
sort of personal background or experience that has an influence
over how they see, experience, and for some obnoxiously attempt to
dictate the world.
This isn’t an attack on any one political party or wing. Not
recognizing your bias happens across the political spectrum.
Liberals can be just as guilty of quoting Michael Moore without
crosschecking facts as conservatives do Bill O’Reilly.
Believe it or not, I appreciate Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly
Factor.” I believe that Bill O’Reilly adds an important perspective
to many issues. I do have a problem with his insistence deeming his
show “The No Spin Zone.”
The key word to focus on is perspective. Everyone has bias. This
is not limited to a political realm. Believe it or not, everything
from the city you grew up in to the high school you attended to the
place you ate lunch gives you a bias. It gives you a perspective,
and what you could equate as a spin, that influences how you
interpret the world around you. For example, my roommate grew up in
Golden, where Coors is brewed. Can you take a stab at where her
allegiance lies when it comes time to get a cheap keg? Are there
any Broncos fans out there?
Although sports and drinking may seem like trivial aspects, this
is exactly how pervasive bias is. It is when we ignore these
biases, or worse deny them all together, that they become
hazardous. To assume a news organization, like any organization,
can be completely unbiased is unrealistic.
Biases are unavoidable. We need to take them into account.
Recognizing that there is no such thing as a “no spin zone” is a
start. We must also make the tough realization that we should
question stories that we agree with as much as those we do not.
It’s what a professor of mine refers to as the “home-team
advantage.” The way we innately hold opinions that disagree with
ours as suspect is a part of this. The way our culture demonizes
those who hold a dissenting opinion is another, but the scariest
part of home-team advantage is its ability to rally masses toward
one perspective as fact or fiction. This is unfortunately a popular
trend in media and society.
We all need to be critical consumers, hearing information
presented to us, whether we agree with it or not, with a critical
ear. This doesn’t mean you have to carry around an almanac or spend
hours of your day researching statistics to reinforce everyday
conversations. You should, however, take time to consider where and
from whom you are hearing information. It’s not that you shouldn’t
listen to those you disagree with either; quite the contrary. Fully
understanding another’s point of view not only enriches your
perspective, but may also complete your opinion and argument.
We should also seek out alternative forms of media. Have you
ever noticed how similar the 10 p.m. news looks from channel to
channel? You’ll hear the same stories from the same angle in the
same 10 minutes. Searching the Internet for alternative points once
a week for a half an hour can enrich your view three times what
reading the same newspaper or watching the same channel every day
for 10 minutes will.
It is all perspective. From the story a producer puts at the top
of a newscast telling you it is most important to the beer your
roommate chooses for your party and the way you are interpreting
this column, the one thing you can count on is that, consciously or
not, there is always a perspective and there is no such thing as a
no spin zone.
Marika is a senior majoring in technical journalism. She is the
news director for KCSU.