Journalism and therefor journalists are intended or assumed to be unbiased, but in reality no human can be one hundred percent unbiased. We all have backgrounds that shape the way we view interactions and events. Instead, we as journalists settle for transparency and reflexivity. We strive to recognize our biases through the process of reflexivity. By identifying and acknowledging our values, privileges and assumptions, we can adhere to the SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) Code of Ethics. Journalists in all practices ought to “avoid stereotyping…support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant… and to avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. [Or] Disclose unavoidable conflicts.”
Typically, privilege is the hierarchy between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, or how much of a white male you are. In this race to see how well off or underprivileged one is, it is restrictive on the ability to look at events that have shaped you into being reflexive. For the assignment we had to take a ”White Privilege Checklist” made in 1989, this was a list of 20 questions spelling out certain situations perceived as real examples of privilege. Frustrated, I checked off five or so boxes but left with more that I could identify with. However the question asked “your race,” just because I could act out these scenarios did not mean my entire identified race could. An over simplification in this case is adhering to the exact stereotyping that journalists are taught to avoid. This was further apparent when asked to write five privileges we have, the room discussed their wealth of objects and ability to attend private schools.
Privilege in their definition was the noun for a special right or advantage. The definition I was using was the noun for a rare opportunity; I saw my abilities to be between racial lines, class structures and the ability to identify with a wide range of people as my privilege. These privileges are the ones that will affect my journalistic view. I could be simplistic by saying I appear white therefor I am privy to certain advantages, but having a rare opportunity influences my assumptions about the world that might influence my reporting.
Growing up in a diverse school setting allowed me to understand a vast array of cultures and be open to new ideas. I was equally aware of my privilege of having a stable and understanding home environment and aware of those around me who did not. I am privileged in being a female, Chicana first generation college student; it gives me opportunities because jobs, colleges and scholarships are actively looking for someone of my ability. Identifying rare abilities and opportunities I gained will influence the different angles in which I report. Because I am multifaceted, I look for those qualities in others; I am never satisfied in the flat character. These privileges are both gifts I can use to my advantage and situations I have to overcome. Just because I have a straddling identity does not mean others identify this way either.