Controlling bias in your articles

27 Mar

When compiling Afghans express confidence in country’s direction, security with Afghans Losing Faith in Nation’s Path, Poll Shows, I realized that many journalists slip bias into their articles when interpreting statistics. When writing articles based on polls, I think journalists need to allow the readers to draw their own conclusions from the data. Our job is to deliver the facts to readers, not tell them how to interpret the numbers.

Both articles definitely had a strong bias, even though they each took a different stand. But I didn’t like the approach the first article took. In Afghans express confidence in country’s direction, security, the reporter threw facts in the reader’s face. He chose to use bullet points to present the statistics. In most cases, this keeps the statistics clear and easy to read. But in this article, it made the data more confusing. The reporter doesn’t clearly define which of the statistics are Iraqis or which are Afghans. The statistics are also all clumped into one long list. Instead of elaborating on each one, it just jumps from one subject to another. I think a lot of everyday readers will either skip over this section or get bored and stop reading.

I liked the second article a little more. Even though Afghans Losing Faith in Nation’s Path, Poll Shows still has its own biases, the reporter tried to make the facts more interesting. Even though the subject matter is very dry, he elaborates more on the interesting statistics. He picks the statistics he finds the most important to the readers and concentrates on those instead of presenting the whole list of statistics that the readers probably wouldn’t be interested in.

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