The Daily Gamecock

Column: Daily Gamecock must take steps to reduce bias

This will be my last article for The Daily Gamecock, a publication for which I've written more than three years and one hundred articles. I've been through half a dozen section editors during my time here, and it's been a pleasure working with each of them. They've each had their own writing styles and quirks, with different requests in terms of formatting and timing of submissions. One thing they've all shared, though, is a liberal perspective.

It's a problem that's pervasive not only in the Opinion section (or Viewpoints, as it was called when I started) but throughout the entire publication. That's not to say there are no conservatives writing; so far this month, columnists on the more conservative side of the scale have published "Religion is largely positive force," "Sanders' fiscal policy unsustainable" and "Christians oppressed internationally." These articles, however, are a minority of the total run by the paper. Six of the articles run so far in April have been socially/fiscally conservative or critical of Democrats, while corresponding liberal perspectives have run 10 times in that same span (articles doing neither, or doing both in equal measure, have run nine times). Expanding the search even to this time last month (that is, since March 19) shows an even more disturbing trend, yielding a total of eight conservative, 22 liberal, and 14 neutral articles. 

That's actually diverse compared to News, which has dedicated articles to liberal events or causes six times in April. The only conservative news covered was the introduction of a bill to ban trans people from using the bathroom of their self-identified gender, which was covered twice, both times in a negative light. On the qualitative side of things, we can compare The DG's generally critical coverage, both in the framing and verbiage of the news report and in the openly aggressive corresponding staff editorial, of an NRA event hosted by the College Republicans to their glowing review of the Birdcage drag show.

"Liberal bias" in the media, both nationally and on campus, isn't about staffers purposely blacking out coverage of conservative causes or attempting to short them when they are covered. I've spent years working with members of The Daily Gamecock and call many of them my friends beyond the professional environment. They're good people who hold their professionalism in high regard and would never purposely inject their personal biases into their work. The problem with biases is that they don't typically occur purposefully. Without differing opinions in leadership positions to catch the minor slants that writers, editors and reports inevitably have, these tendencies can quickly compound into more major prejudices.

I've heard anecdotally from many conservative students who have grown so tired of the political favoritism shown by The DG that they've given up reading it entirely. I know that this publication wants to give information to and provide a voice for the entire student body, but for these students the paper is failing in that endeavor.

To bring all students into the fold, The Gamecock and its many sections of staff need to focus on improving their diversity, not only of skin color or sexual orientation but also of ideology. Conservatives, for their part, need to give the paper a chance: The DG can't add conservative staff members if no conservatives interview for available positions.