Religion and other types of bias in editing

3 Apr

In the article Grandfather charged in blaze that killed 3, the writers are accused of showing a religious bias by not counting a fetus as a human life. The article describes that a man set a fire that killed his pregnant daughter, her husband and their son. This is a very sensitive situation due to the fact that the subject matter is also a cultural issue. The reason the man killed his family is cited as being a result of a “cultural slight.” We have to be very wary when dealing with anything having to do with other religions, especially those that aren’t common and everyone might not understand. It might not have been important enough to include the fact that he did it for a cultural reason.

Then there is the issue of the fetus and whether it counts as a human death. The article did not count the fetus as a human life. In the editor’s letter, he wrote about how journalists should control their bias. He pointed out this instance as his example. At first, I agreed with his opinion that journalists do need to check their bias. But as I read on, I noticed he was doing the same thing the reporters did in the article. He was also sharing his bias in the situation, he was just taking the other side.

I think the issue should have been more delicately handled in the article. If I had been the editor, I would have tried to not mentioned any specific numbers. In most cases, I would have tried to list the victims or used “the family” and specified that one of the victims was a fetus. As long as the fact that one of the victims was pregnant is mentioned, I don’t think the number of victims is important. I would definitely not have put a number in the headline. Instead, I would have had the headline read Grandfather charged in blaze that killed family.

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