Friday, March 11, 2011

Bias, et. al.

What does NPR have to do with sports media?

By now, I'm sure you've seen the stories of how National Public Radio executives were caught on tape denouncing Tea Party members as racists; two top NPR leaders were forced to resign in the fallout. Critics have long argued that NPR is left-leaning in its reporting, and these revelations seem to support that argument. So, what's the connection?

Just a reminder that everyone, including sports reporters and journalists, brings bias and personal feelings into a story. As much as we want to be fair and impartial, we're simply wired differently. Our feelings, perspectives and beliefs color how we look at the world, and that includes sports.

Consider the ongoing NFL labor negotiations. Your perspective influences whether you favor the owners or the players; it's almost impossible not to pick sides. Good reporting recognizes that perspective and tries to work around it. That doesn't mean such biases have to end up in print or on air, but recognizing them helps much more than simply ignoring them or pretending they don't exist.

This is our last day before spring break starts, so you might not hear from me for a few days. But before I go I did want to mention another online chat sponsored by the Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State. On March 21, the Center will host "Ethical Issues in the Coverage of Youth Sports." You can participate in the session by visiting this site at 1pm (Eastern) on March 21.


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