By Katy TerBerg
Sue Ellen Christian, associate professor of journalism in the School of Communication, has recently published her book “Overcoming Bias: A Journalist’s Guide to Culture and Context” through Holcomb Hathaway publishers.
Christian’s book takes an interdisciplinary approach, applying theories of social cognition, cognitive psychology and intercultural communication to the practice of journalism. While journalists go out of their way to avoid purposeful bias in the news, Christian’s book examines a more pervasive set of internal biases and flaws in thinking that can lead to unintentional inaccuracies and distortions in news coverage.
A Chicago Tribune staff writer, Christian draws upon her professional background by including her interviews with reporters and editors throughout the country who provide real-world voices and experiences.
“This book came about because of my students, and I’m grateful to them. Since joining WMU in 2001, I have worked with students on reporting experiences that included people unlike themselves in some important way,” she said. “This diversity reporting work helped me see the real need for a book such as this one for journalists at all levels, but especially those just starting out. The aim of this book is to promote fair, ethical and inclusive coverage in the news media.
“This book explores biases in the way that humans think, the way that we naturally and instinctively categorize people, filter information, ration our attention, rely on cultural norms and default to rehearsed ways of thinking. These biases affect journalism at every stage of the reporting and writing process,” she said.
Information on Christian’s book as well as upcoming events can be found on her blog.