Ethan Zuckerman gave the 2012-2013 Common Experience speech Monday to a full audience in Evans Liberal Arts Auditorium.
This year’s Common Experience theme is “A Global Odyssey: Exploring Our Connections to the Changing World.” Zuckerman is an American media scholar, blogger and Internet activist, and the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media.
The Common Experience is a year-long initiative at Texas State designed to cultivate a common intellectual conversation across campus, according to the university website.
Zuckerman’s speech was titled “The Innocence of Newsweek: Why all Media is Biased, and What We Can Do About It.” His title was based off the controversial movie “Innocence of Muslims,” an anti-Islamic video that sparked demonstrations and violent protests in Egypt on Sept. 11 this year. News stations attributed the cause of the event to violent Muslim rage, which wasn’t the whole truth, Zuckerman said.
Zuckerman said he wanted to talk about the simple question of media bias, starting with the argument that all news outlets are prejudiced.
“When you are talking about media, you are always talking about a message they focus on,” Zuckerman said. “If you think about bias in terms of just left and right, you really miss critical information that we need to pay attention to.”
Zuckerman said the media has a geographical bias. There are certain parts of the world consumers of media pay more certain attention to, whether they mean to or not.
“We are very good at paying attention to celebrity news, but when it comes to world news, we spend very little time with it,” Zuckerman said. “There are parts of the world that we naturally pay a lot of attention to and parts of the world we pay very little attention to.”
Jonathan Cronin, sociology sophomore, enjoyed listening to Zuckerman, and said he is an expert in his field of studies.
“I’m very familiar with Ethan Zuckerman,” Cronin said. “It was nice that I was able to ask a media expert on ideas on politics and be able to have a conversation with him. It was definitely an intellectually stimulating event.”
Jake Warren, computer science junior, said he found it interesting Zuckerman approached the issue of media bias from several different angles.
“(Zuckerman) is definitely well informed on other people’s views, and the thing he was really trying to pass by is that every source has a biased opinion,” Warren said.
Zuckerman ended the night with an open-mic discussion where students and faculty members were able to ask questions and voice opinions. Zuckerman responded and gave his advice about several subjects.
“Ask yourself ‘What biases is that article making?’” Zuckerman said. “’What else might you add? Where else could the story have gone? What are you not seeing?’”