Tag Archives: media

Bias in Olympic Coverage

16 Aug

The Olympics are a perfect place to sit back and watch how (unconscious?) bias filters in to reporting.

Consider who is shown on the podium and who is not.

Consider who is getting airtime and who is not.

Consider how we talk about athletes, and who we hear about (and who we don’t).

Consider who gets heat, for what, and why – and who gets away with it.

I’m talking specifically about gender and race.

Take Gabby Douglas for instance. Godal medal in gymnastics – twice. And she has been called out (among other things) for not putting her hand on her heart during the anthem, and Michael Phelps can laugh during the same anthem without a peep. Hmmm…..

She is Black, and she is female.

It’s a perfect example of the unequal standards and scrutiny that people of colour and females still face (and if you are Black and female… God help you!).

This (and many other examples) are attempts to disregard, undermine, discredit and otherwise take away from the ways we contribute to society. And it goes all the way up to the top! (I’ll write about how Hilary Clinton is treated by the media another day.)

It may be unconscious, but it’s still wrong and it has to stop.

Here is a spoof article about Michael Phelps and his fiancé that is meant to show how differently we comment on and report on the accomplishments of women.

It makes a great point.
Read it and see if you don’t think it’s ridiculous – and then ask yourself if you read it about a man and his female fiancé, if you’d have the same reaction. I bet most of us wouldn’t. Because it’s common – women are still picked apart for stupid things (and that men get away with), and have their bodies, clothing, hairstyles and children pulled into conversations where they are irrelevant at best and distracting at worst.

What’s worse is that we seem to be numb to it; we don’t recognize the inequity and the violation of dignity and worth that underlies this type of reporting (or lack of reporting). Where is the public outcry?

Complacency is dangerous.
Not knowing we are complacent is even more troubling.

We clearly have work do to….

See more.

Copyright 2016 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator, and Consultant on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

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Blind Spot – Part 2: Social Mindbugs

1 Oct

Last week I introduced you to social mindbugs. This week, I’m going to make the case a little more, because I know that it’s challenging to take in that what our unconscious mind believes can lead us in a direction/to a behaviour or conclusion that our conscious mind would abhor.

In case you missed last week’s post, Dr. Banaji and Dr. Greenbaum (the authors of Blind Spot) describe mindbugs as “Ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in how we perceive, remember, reason and make decisions.” Social mindbugs are habits of thought that are about social groups.

The media is one of the powerful ways that mindbugs are created and maintained. How people are presented in the news provides us with some amazing examples of mindbugs. The challenge is that, because they are mindbugs, we don’t necessarily catch them or their problematic nature because they confirm what we believe (at an unconscious level or even at a conscious level).

A powerful example of this is coverage during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.
You may remember these photos because they did cause a stir at the time. These are a perfect example of social mindbugs at work. Read the caption and see what jumps out at you before you read on.


Both parties are in the same dire situation, but the Black people are referred to as looters while the white people are referred to as having found provisions.

Social mindbugs lead us to trust some people and not trust others, simply because of the social group they belong to (race, class, ability, education, looks, etc). In this case, that unconscious bias transferred into the language that was chosen by the journalist and the fact that the editorial team didn’t catch it.

They are called unconscious biases for a reason. But they still have tremendous impact.
Take some time in the next few days to consider what biases you may hold.

What social mindbugs are you carrying?

See more.

Copyright 2014 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker & Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion

How we (still) use race to identify people…

22 Jun

I’ve been thinking a lot about the two recent shootings in Toronto and the role of race in how media gets reported.

Turns out I’m not the only one – earlier this week the morning DJs (Mark and Jem) on G 98.7FM brought it up and a few people called in.  True, the Eaton Centre shooting affected more people than the one on College Street this week, but how race is reported when crimes occur is an interesting topic of conversation from a diversity perspective. Race is a factor – not the only one, but a factor nonetheless in how media is reported. The question is, why? And why is it still happening in Toronto in2012?

Although the print media didn’t reveal the race of the Eaton Centre shooting suspect, the radio news apparently did.  The College Street suspect, on the other hand, was not racially identified.

The Eaton Centre shooting seems to also have been more widely covered by the news. Granted, more people were affected at the Eaton Centre, it’s a mall, and it is a popular tourist destination. But they both happened in public spaces.

If you pay attention to how suspects are identified in the news, you may notice that we are much more likely to hear about their skin colour if the suspect is not white.  It can’t be a numbers thing, since people of colour make up close to half of the city’s population (47% in the 2006 census).  It is therefore not about making it easier to narrow down the search.

So what gives?

Seems like regardless of numbers, people of colour are still the “Other”, and skin colour is still used as a marker of difference – when the person is not white. The result, in the case of crimes, is that “suspect” and “person of colour” are likely more closely linked in our subconscious…and voila, we have further ingrained stereotypes.

And it’s not just the media: skin colour is also a not-so-uncommon descriptor in personal life as well –  but again, usually only if the person isn’t white.  Pay attention for the next little while, and see.

Hmm….maybe we haven’t come as far as we’d like to think.


See more.

copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion


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