Dr. Lauren Hearit recently led the HASP community in an educational discussion, “Bias and the Media.” HASP (the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals) is a lifelong learning and service community for retirees in West Michigan. Dr. Hearit focused on the evidence for how, when, and if bias manifests itself in the media.
Dr. Hearit states, “I had the opportunity to discuss bias in the media with HASP, a topic I’ve delved into while teaching an introductory crisis communication class here at Hope College. I discovered when teaching crisis communication that my basic assumptions — that the media seeks to tell the truth, and that the media is an important aspect of democracy — were not necessarily held by my students. Therefore, I spent some time researching why my students were having difficulty separating being critical of the media from having a basic trust in the watchdog function of our media. I learned that a huge casualty of our increasingly polarized electorate and a major increase in fake news has been a decline in trust in our media system, and was able to take what I learned to HASP.Speaking with HASP was like teaching my dream class. We had a great discussion about the role of the media in a democracy, the importance of local news, how media bias shows up in our news, and how we can critically evaluate the quality of news reporting. Additionally, we talked about how reading around an issue (in other words, reading about one news source from multiple, printed news sources) can allow one to have a better sense of an issue, and how oftentimes by reading the news from a high quality national news source like BBC or PBS, you’re able to avoid a lot of the commentary and analysis you run into with TV news.”