Northwestern University, Illinois. The auditorium filled with journalism student and a respected faculty representative took the stage. From the beginning to the end of lecture, he was clearly and doubtlessly expressing a political propaganda, and we all had to listen.
It all started with the readings provided for us to read before the lecture, which included The New York Times’ article about Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. The mentioned article showed a clear disapproval of the Republican candidate and would by any means be considered biased. The following article commenting on The New York Times’ article approved the media bias, and my professor in the morning lecture agreed with it and argued that the article shows “necessary bias” which newspaper of today are “forced” to incorporate in their work. The whole lecture was more of a political speech, since professors included phrases claiming that media companies were never threatened as they are today and suggesting that Donald Trump is an enemy of journalists since he makes people trust media less. On the other hand, the lecture itself wasn’t productive and had no significant influence on our course progress.
As an international student in the United States, I’m not interested in the upcoming elections because I don’t think that they can in any way change my status here, and I’m not allowed to vote. Some may argue that I should be concerned with the wellbeing of the US citizens, but seeing that a big number of American citizens aren’t even aware of the existence of my country, I will jump over this hypothetical argument. The point here doesn’t have anything to with the substance of the lecture, but with the context. The lecturing professor could have chosen to talk about his political opinions at any time, by organizing a small workshop with interested students, but this was a mandatory lecture and promotion of media bias made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Going one step further, one would consider this to be a case of misuse of power and trust since university professors hold a lot of authority in the eyes of their students.
Northwestern University’s dean recently addressed the need for safe spaces implementation into the school’s policy and strongly opposed University of Chicago’s controversial letter. In the beginning, I had a negative opinion about the safe spaces policy, but after the lecture in which I sat silent and desperately waited for the class to end, I realized how important safe spaces can be. Unfortunately, I wasn’t offered a safe space during the lecture, and none of the other students were either.
Media bias is a topic which I, as a journalist in making, am sensitive about. Take for example this Time’s article reporting on Syria, Iran and Russia as “axes of evil”. Some would call it freedom of the press, but others (including myself) would consider it to be more of a war propaganda and as a student coming from a war-torn country it is an issue I deeply care about. So, if “necessary bias” is a new journalistic method to be used in the US presidential elections, who can argue that every country’s mainstream media won’t publish what they consider to be “necessary bias” and how far away will we be from new conflicts being a new product of this reporting “technique”.
Media and universities hold a huge roll in forming citizens’ opinions and if they voluntarily become opinionated political figures, my question is “who is putting US democracy in danger,” and “who can people search for when being dedicated to form their own opinions based on bias free information?”