Tag the Bias

Photo by Jon S NS Newsflas via Flickr
Photo by Jon S NS Newsflas via Flickr
Photo by Jon S NS Newsflas via Flickr

Have you seen these articles?

  • The best way to eliminate the gender pay gap? Ban salary negotiations.
  • Caitlyn Jenner: I was ‘mistreated’ by Kris Jenner
  • Women’s Soccer Is a Feminist Issue
  • The Price of Caitlyn Jenner’s Heroism

This may come as a shock, but each of the article references above came from reputable news outlets (the first two articles were taken from the pages of The Washington Post, the third from The Atlantic and the final article from The New York Times). These news outlets used to be world-renown for their investigative coverage of the country’s most pressing issues, such as government corruption, war crimes, white-collar criminals, gentrification or political astroturfing.

I implore all Ladies Again readers to document bias in the media by using the hashtag #tagthebias.

Instead, today’s journalists at high-profile news agencies are choosing to forgo coverage of hard-hitting news subjects to cover made-up gender issues, such as the “rape culture,” the “sexual harassment in the workplace,” or “pay discrimination” against women―all “issues” that have been debunked by research). Reporters at traditional news outlets are unabashedly using their publications as mouthpieces to push their own ultra-liberal, feminist and pro-gay political agendas. In the mainstream media, opposing views to the liberal agenda are either ignored or categorized as sexist, racist, insensitive or homophobic. Ethical journalism is at an all-time low.

Hillary Clinton Washington Post Express Cover
Hillary Clinton Washington Post Express Cover

If you are a regularly reader of a mainstream news publication, it’s rare that you read a news issue that does not include at least one article that promotes the value of gay marriage, transsexual rights or chastises a political leader or celebrity for making comments about women or dating. And news agencies are pushing their agenda without any shame―in March 2014, Time magazine put a transsexual on the cover of their magazine.

Earlier this year, The Washington Post put Hillary Clinton on the cover with a halo behind her―of course, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson did not receive the same “halo” treatment when they announced their bids for presidency. Conservative opinions are rarely included by the country’s largest news agencies. The bias in the media extends beyond political leaders—workaholics (and liberals) Sheryl Sandberg and Sonya Sotomayor are praised as “strong” heroines by the press, yet conservative business and political leaders like Penelope Trunk and Condoleezza Rice are not praised for their work ethics.

As a journalist, my question is this: Why are news outlets investing so much energy in promoting fringe feminist ideals or gay rights when the media industry is falling apart? Shouldn’t they worry about covering actual news? The general public does not even agree with their feminist sentiments: In a study, only 24 percent of women and 14 percent of men considered themselves to be a “feminist” in the absence of a definition of the word. Nearly forty percent of all Americans say that they do not support gay marriage.

The media industry cannot afford to continue this nonsense. According to the American Society of News Editors, full-time newspaper newsroom staffing shrunk 30 percent from 2003 through 2012. Local corruption stories are likely not getting covered: A Pew report finds that the number of full-time statehouse reporters dropped by 35 percent between 2003 and 2014—a loss of 164 jobs. News agencies are losing money each day. The New York Times reported in 2014 that their total revenue decreased 0.6 percent, to $388.7 million, from $391 million in the period a year earlier, largely because of a 4.1 percent decline in advertising revenue. Net income decreased from more than $20 million to $9 million in the second quarter of 2013.

Pew Bias Chart
Pew Bias Chart

I am not sure what news agencies are doing, but it is time that the public call out media agencies for wasting valuable print space on liberal fringe ideas. Why? The media has tremendous power in setting cultural guidelines and in shaping political discourse. According to the national media watch group FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting), it is essential that news media are challenged to be fair and accurate. According to FAIR, the first step in challenging biased news coverage is documenting bias. FAIR provides a blueprint of questions that the public should ask themselves when they come across newspaper, magazine, television and radio news:

  • Who are the sources?
  • From whose point of view is the news reported?
  • Are there double standards?
  • Do stereotypes skew coverage?
  • What are the unchallenged assumptions?
  • Is the language loaded?
  • Is there a lack of context?
  • Do the headlines and stories match?
  • Are stories on important issues featured prominently?

I implore all Ladies Again readers to document bias in the media by sharing a photo of the news article on Tumblr and Twitter using the hashtag #tagthebias. We’re sharing a few examples below:

In this Post article, men's blog is mentioned in quotations.
In this Post article, men’s blogs are referenced in quotations.
The Post draws attention to Indian feminist protests.
The Post draws attention to Indian feminist protests.
Two (!) feminist news updates from The Washington Post
Two (!) feminist news updates from The Washington Post

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I’m a Woman with a Career I Don’t Want

Angelo DeSantis via Flickr

I am a power woman living the dream. I have a full-time career as a spokesperson for a nonprofit, and an office with floor-to-ceiling views of a busy neighborhood in Washington, D.C. I work with an assistant, and I have a boss that lets me take four-week vacations. Every day, I work with national reporters and producers to place major stories in high-profile news outlets. I travel each month for conferences and meetings in other U.S. cities, where I get to stay in quality hotels with spas, room service and heated swimming pools.

Photo by Angelo DeSantis via Flickr
Photo by Angelo DeSantis via Flickr

I go to meetings where I plan strategies with experienced leaders and high-paid political consultants. I go to power lunches and policy briefings with colleagues. I keep tabs on stakeholders for my job. I network at industry after-work parties. I check my email all day while I am in the office and before I go to bed at night. I have fancy business cards and a closet full of tailored suits. I have eight pairs of black pumps. My job has all of the glitz, prestige and power I prayed for when I was 13 years old in middle school.

And I hate everything about my career. I hate the phoniness of public relations, the monotony of office life and the endless stream of upcoming meetings and projects. I hate dealing with the soul-killing boredom when the workload slows down, and, when the reverse happens and work speeds up, the heart-attacking-inducing panic when I have to process one week’s worth of projects in a single afternoon. I hate navigating through workplace office politics and going to phony business lunches. My commutes in the mornings are long and tedious, and the truth is that I could do most of my work at home. I have thought about quitting for the past two years and have reached a point where coming into work every day is a struggle.

I should say that I while I do not like office life and public relations, I love the nonprofit organization I work for and I think they are helping to make the world a better place. I would just rather not work for them, or anyone else to be honest. I have recently come to the conclusion that I would rather work for myself―in an industry completely different than public relations (PR).

I never actually planned to work in PR. Like many in the industry, I started off as a freelance writer. When the economy got rocky in 2009, I grabbed on to the industry like it was a floating lifesaver so that I could finally earn a steady paycheck and have health insurance benefits. At first, I found the job to be surprisingly easy. All I have to do is be nice to reporters! But now, I am realizing that everything comes with a cost. Compared to other office jobs, such as finance, operations or network administration, communications careers are in fact much easier, but the big difference is that public relations staff members are held to much higher accountability standards. We are often the first to go during layoffs and and the last to receive funding support for our projects.

Even if you do not work in public relations, if you’re a woman reading this, you probably share my sentiments about work. One Pew study found that 53 percent of women say they do not have any interest in being the boss. According to another Pew study, 47 percent of mothers said that their ideal situation would be to work part-time. I personally have no interest in working full-time and being a mother.

A ForbesWoman study found that out of all working women surveyed, 84 percent of working women say that they aspire to have the financial luxury to stay home to raise children. One in three women resent their partners for not earning enough to make that dream a reality. Forget about Sheryl Sandberg’s advice about “leaning in,” most working women actually want to opt out.

So what is a girl to do? Right now I’m applying to schools so that I can go into a career that is more flexible and less time-consuming. I’m looking forward to going back to school and getting a break from the cushy (read: boring) office for the next few years. I’m also going to spend more time finding work-life balance role models to follow, such as Penelope Trunk and Megan Basham.

What are your thoughts on office life? How are you finding work-life balance?

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