Editorial—Thinking on Bias

I’m having to confront the issue of my personal bias more often in this position that I initially expected. As I’ve said in the past, I believe bias in an article is perfectly acceptable, perhaps even unavoidable, so long as the article remains accurate, truthful, and fair to the point of noting when there’s significant doubt about a particular position. But that doesn’t make it any easier to edit.

Sometimes writers submit things that I vehemently disagree with as a person, but I have to remember that just because something is my opinion doesn’t mean it’s the correct opinion. (Although odds are it is, if you ask me. Of course, that’s kind of the problem, isn’t it?)  I also have to be careful with these types of articles because I have a tendency to want to let things through that I shouldn’t—such as unproven blanket assertions, or statements about others’ beliefs or motives—in fear that I might be judging the article too harshly because I disagree.

Sometimes it’s the opposite: a writer is saying things that I fully agree with. That one’s actually harder to do, because it requires that I keep aware of what’s strictly on the page and don’t rely on what I personally know, or worse, just believe.  It also has the opposite problem, that I tend to require higher levels of proof for assertions, of incontrovertibility, to ensure that I’m not being too soft on something.

But most recently, it was because The Voice Magazine received a chance to interview Advanced Education Minister, Marlin Schmidt, on the passage of Bill 19, a bill that will be putting tuition and post-secondary fee controls into law, as well as adding some other requirements that students’ associations have generally been seeking for quite some time.

My bias, as you might expect if you’ve read some of these editorials, is toward the NDP, or more specifically, against their primary opposition today, the conservatives or United Conservative Party of Alberta.  Some hardliners would claim that having that bias means I’m unqualified to properly interview the minister and that it explains why he’d be willing to have an interview with what they might call a “friendly” publication.  I disagree, however.  Simply having a bias doesn’t mean you give in to it.  And I think I successfully avoided doing so this time, because I did get some answers I wasn’t particularly happy about.

But I always have self-doubt on these things. Perhaps I was too soft, perhaps there were some obvious, hard questions that I didn’t even think of asking.  That’s where I look to you, the readership of The Voice Magazine.  What questions would you have asked, had you the chance?

Of course, that’s just the Feature Article this week, we also have our report on the latest AUSU Council meeting, a particularly hard to stomach Fly on the Wall (it’s a bit of a pun, you’ll get it when you get there), advice on everything from menopause to paragraphs, and of course other thoughtful articles, news, events, reviews, and more.  Enjoy the read!