Fair and Balanced
Thanks to Fox News, the phrase “fair and balanced” is trite. But on a basic level, the concept has merit. News should show more than just one side. Stories should contain depth.
In an attempt to be fair and balanced, UAF is hosting a lecture by an academic from outside who is pro-Israel. According to an e-mail from one of the organizers, Jonathan Adelman’s presentation is supposed to balance out Alison Weir’s one-sided lecture last semester.
Weir, an advocate against a Jewish state in Israel, presented one side of the debate. Much of her information was skewed (or just false), although she claimed to have arrived at her conclusions with an outsider’s perspective on the situation. Objectivity is debatable. Even if it exists, it’s hard to believe she possesses it.
Adelman’s lecture is called “The Rise of Israel: A History of a Revolutionary State.” His talk is supposed to represent a more Israel-centric view of the situation. His credentials online include endorsement by the Jewish National Fund, American-Israeli Cooperative and other organizations. (He’s also a professor at the University of Denver.)
But the balance provided by two radicals isn’t even close to sharing the whole story. There is more to Israel than two people can share, particularly people who believe strongly in just one interpretation of the facts.
Before becoming a politician, Rep. Mike Doogan, D-Anchorage, was a columnist at the Anchorage Daily News. He once wrote that “… history is not just black and white. History is life written down, and life is too full of contradictions and detours and false turns to be captured in straight, narrow lines…”
How can two people share all of history’s contradictions involved?
UAF certainly has the best of intentions in attempting to be fair, but presenting two opposing views does little to clue students in to the realities of life in the Middle East or the conflicts between Israel and Palestine.
And it might just make for a less educated community. Selective perception is a common problem. Students (and the rest of the world) seek out information that matches their worldview. Holding a lecture to show each “side” makes it easy for Fairbanksans to continue that pattern. People can choose one person to be right, one to be wrong and ignore the contradictions and twisted lines that make up reality.
Unlike Weir, Adelman doesn’t purport to approach the situation from an objective position. His lecture will probably be informative. It should be billed as such. Marketing the lecture as an attempt at fairness plays into Fox News’ definition and does little to actually shed light on a complicated issue.
What would shed light on it? Bring the two together for a panel – and toss someone else in the mix, with a third perspective. It might be impossible to include every angle, but there could be, at least, more than one line represented at a time. Pairing Weir and Adelman’s stories would help provide students with a view of the contradictions and detours and false turns involved in learning about the region.