Friday, January 6, 2012

Information Bias

Information via the written word in Salt Lake City largely depends on how much you like religion. On one hand, if you enjoy your information brimming with ties to the LDS faith, then you'll probably like either or The Deseret News (both owned by the LDS church). On the other hand, if you desire large doses of secular humanism (articles about beer) in your news, then you probably prefer The Salt Lake Tribune or The City Weekly. All of these options do their best to report the facts as they see them through the eyes of Moroni or the eyes of some entity that hates Moroni and everything he stands for.

Let me just say right now that the level of important news happening around Salt Lake City isn't on par (at all) with other major news organizations in cities like New York or Los Angeles. Given that, it's fair to say that quality isn't on par with those publications either. For example, I once found a story in the Salt Lake Tribune with the headline "Bill would expand aid to blind, dead students." Having lived in Utah long enough, I found it completely reasonable that our legislature would give free tuition to dead people before considering other needy groups such as house plants, space aliens, and blenders, so I didn't read the article. I later learned that the headline should have read "Bill would take away all aid from everyone because we only like socialism in our religion."

As I mentioned above, there's a very obvious religious-secular divide between these publications which causes each of them to report on different stories. For example, there's a story in today's Tribune entitled "Orthodox Christians mark 'blessing of the waters' at SLC park", which is about Orthodox Christians asking God to make that big pond at Liberty Park not stink as much. Even though the Tribune is the more secular paper, it reports on the activities of non-LDS religions just to let all of the Salt Lake atheists know that other religions are crazy too, which is its own brand of bias. If you're LDS, you read or The Deseret News because they normally only run LDS-related stories or innocuous fluff like "18-year-old Boy Scout holds every current merit badge", which isn't news at all.

It looks like this religious-secular divide is polarizing the information I read. Warm and fuzzy church related stories permeate one side while non-church related stories for the sake of being non-church related stories permeate the other. You're not supposed to believe everything you read, as the old saying goes, but this is ridiculous.

Unbiased information is seriously no fun, you guys!