BLOG: Examining the Issue of Bias in the Energy Industry
This week, the Pew Research Center released findings from a survey examining whether the American public can recognize news as factual or an opinion. What was most interesting to me was out of the more than 5,000 adults surveyed, just 26 percent were able to identify all factual statements. For opinion statements, that percentage increased to a whopping 35 percent.
The report also revealed that both Republicans and Democrats are more likely to think news statements are factual when they appeal to their side even if they are, in fact, opinions.
So, I deduced that not only do many Americans struggle with receiving their news objectively (which isn’t surprising human behavior), they also struggle to distinguish between facts and opinions.
I decided to do a little surveying of my own.
In a poll posted on Rigzone’s Twitter page, I asked respondents to indicate if they thought the news media was bias in its news coverage. The results are below.
Is the news media bias in its news coverage?— Rigzone (@Rigzone) June 19, 2018
Out of 1,044 Twitter respondents, one-third believe the media is biased most of the time. Another 30 percent said the media is always biased in its news coverage.
How much of this falls on the media and how much falls on the industry?
Bias is quite normal for people to exhibit, according to Alex Epstein, founder and president of the Center for Industrial Progress and author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.”
In the energy industry, this could prove to be specifically problematic as there has long been a feud between pro-industry advocates and environmentalists. And with the phrase “fake news” being thrown around so much these days, bias in reporting and in receiving news needs to be addressed. The media is speaking to a public that – based on findings of the aforementioned surveys – has difficulty identifying facts and accepting news objectively and has a mistrust of the news media.
Couple that with the fact the energy industry does a terrible job of telling its story (according to award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien), and it leaves the door open for misinformation, something the industry simply can’t afford as it continues to try to attract the younger generations to the workforce.
“Being evenhanded requires deliberate effort,” Epstein told Rigzone, adding that every thought process or conversation is based on some framework (a starting structure of assumptions, beliefs or practices) which then influences everything else.
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