Please stop calling centrism 'unbiased'

Updated: Sep 7

As my first semester of college comes to a close, I have been reflecting on my experiences with leftism in my community.

Living in Boston, it’s great seeing so many other leftists my age and getting to interact with them in a mutually beneficial environment where concerns can be raised safely, and friendships can be struck by similarity of opinion. However, it is the actions of few that cause me to raise some concern.

A professor of mine — who will be known here as the Professor — often mentions in their lectures that they see themselves as a completely centrist journalist (“Right down the middle”), a sentiment that they proclaim to a lecture hall of around 300 students.

While this may seem like a normal case of professors expressing their political beliefs, what truly bothers me about the ordeal is their implication that unbiased journalism can only be realized through centrism.

The Professor often highlights other centrist journalists at the beginning of class and makes remarks about split-ticket voting (which they are a proponent of).

Especially taking into account the diverse student base of BU and the leftist-leaning city of Boston, it is disheartening to hear these views expressed so nonchalantly to impressionable students.

What is even more troubling is hearing the Professor speak so plainly about the issues with journalism, namely capitalistic issues of corporations co-opting journalism and running independent sites out of business, while not drawing this evidence to the conclusion that capitalism and corporations are the issue.

This calls attention to the false moral superiority that some have with claiming centrism as ‘unbiased’ and well-rounded.

First, the assertion of being ‘unbiased’ in politics is a completely arbitrary one–there is no such thing. Everyone has bias because everyone has opinions.

There is a difference between unbiased and fair, however, when it comes to journalism. While unbiased opinions, as I said, are impossible in politics, there can be fairness in both opinion and reporting. Fairness is listening to all of the facts and determining an outcome based on them, something I fear the Professor does not do as well as they might.

I would argue that centrism is just as biased as any other political stance, but it is in some ways much worse. By choosing to stay in the middle, centrists choose to be blind to the issues within the system. Hearing a journalist claim centrism as their political affiliation is, therefore, troubling.

I would also argue that being well-rounded does not equate with sticking in the middle, but instead with examining all, or most, sides of the political debate and being able to decide where one falls. I, a leftist, am just as well-rounded in politics as any well-meaning centrist.

You are not a bad journalist for picking a side. You are not a bad journalist for having strong convictions and sticking to them. You are not a bad journalist for realizing that conservatism is at fault for many issues in society. But you are a bad journalist if you cannot listen to and accept the evidence in front of you.

I believe it is more admirable to back one's views with conscious conviction than stay wishy-washy in the middle.

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