In the journalism ethics class I teach at Manchester Community College, we’ve been talking about implicit bias, and how that affects journalists in their reporting and writing.
So the assignment — voluntary though it may be — for today’s class is to go to Project Implicit and take a test. The class was assigned to take the Race Implicit Association Test. I took that one, and, given the mess in Indiana over “religious freedom,” I took the Gay-Straight IAT, as well.
It’s easy to throw rocks at people who are overtly biased, but what about the rest of us, us regular folk who have our own unspoken bias? You can’t fix what you can’t see.
In both tests, I showed a moderate inclination to favor people from my own tribe — white heterosexuals. It was an interesting exercise, and I highly recommend it.
This test demonstrates an implicit bias against the visually impaired and arthritic.
I thought about that. It’s still an interesting exercise, no?
I took one of the racial bias tests, (and a few others), about ten years ago when my employer was looking for employees to help the company move to Canada. I didn’t get to see the final judgment, but I was asked to sign up…which I assumed meant a favorable grade. (I didn’t go. BIG mistake.)
I do think it’s interesting exercise…and I’m not a scientist…but I’m not entirely convinced of the accuracy…science-wise. Recognition of implicit bias is important, I’m just not convinced a computer game employing a sliding scale should be necessary.
I was a little put off by all the personal questions before the actual test. And I’m always frustrated when questions about political identity are so severely limited…conservative↔liberal.
I get that. I took two of the tests and almost took a third, but neither test told me anything I don’t already know AND I know how to take tests, so any test that relies on my honest answer is problematic. But we are talking about this in class and as budding journalists, I think having students (or any one, really) stop and check themselves is a good thing. We need more diverse newsrooms and we need newsrooms full of people with open minds — or as open as we can pry them.
I think diversity is important. I think funding is important. Because when looking at bias in the newsroom these days…implicit or otherwise…who signs the checks must be a consideration.
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