I challenge all American media outlets to refrain from using generalizations and stereotypes in their reporting for one day–Wednesday, October 24, 2018. 

NEWS ANCHOR WITH HEADLINEAlt-Right, Snowflake, Neo-Nazi, Libtard, Left, Right, Liberal, Fascist and Conservative are just a few of the generalizations and stereotypes regularly bombarding us on television, in newspapers and on the web. For a country that holds individualism–and individual rights–in such high esteem it’s mind-boggling how quickly we are to put individuals in an easily-recognizable and generalized category.

Any collective term can be de-individualizing–minister, welfare recipient, used-car salesman, librarian, teacher and politician. Sure, individuals in those jobs tend to have many of the same duties and skills–and those may even define their lives–but each is still unique.

Even as kids we conjured certain standardized images of jocks, nerds, burnouts, rebels, preppies and sluts. Did the Breakfast Club teach us nothing?

Why do we use stereotypes? We use stereotypes because they are an easy way to make sense out of a busy and complicated world. We are in love with black and white–simple clarity. Grey areas make us uncomfortable. Complex issues make us uncomfortable. Complex people make us uncomfortable. On the other hand, generalizations give us comfort. Besides, who has the time to really get to know the quirky characteristics of your own friends, let alone someone who may have a differing opinion or two? So, stereotypes are time savers too!

Why does the media make generalizations? The media is likewise trying to make sense of an increasingly busy and complex world–for us. Unfortunately that sometimes also means simplifying things–whether it is vocabulary, concepts, individuals or categories–so they are understandable for the largest possible audience. They’re in essence giving us what we need–comfort in generalizations. They’re also a mirror of our stereotype-using selves.

Why do I care? Because the individuals that I know defy generalizations and stereotypes. They rarely–if ever–fit neatly or easily or completely into a category associated with certain definable characteristics. My friends and family are nuanced individuals and taking that uniqueness away from them not only denies their uniqueness, it erodes the very foundations of our liberty.

How does using stereotypes erode the foundations of our liberty? It makes it easy to hate. It makes it comfortable to hate. How? By allowing someone to de-individualize (and dehumanize) the opposition–the enemy. It’s easier to hate a generalized group that you’re told embodies characteristics you detest than it is to hate an individual that may disagree with you on a number of topics and agree with you on others.

You may have heard the term divide and conquer. It’s one of the oldest of military strategies. It’s also one of the oldest military strategies to be applied off the battlefield. Generalities and stereotypes are one of the most effective weapons of choice for those wanting to gain and hold power through hate, fear and anger. And it is a weapon used by all sides indiscriminately.

Newspaper and coffeeSo what exactly is the challenge? Well from 12:01am to 11:59pm on Wednesday, October 24 all media–television, radio, web and newspapers will cease using stereotypes and making generalizations. What does that entail? Well, it entails some pretty laborious and exacting journalism–naming and discussing individuals and not lumping them into easy-to-label general categories. If it sounds like a generalization or stereotype–even remotely–don’t use it.

Now, I’m not saying that all labels are inappropriate. What I am saying that if they are used, the media needs to go beyond the label–to at least hint at the individual or the individualism they’re reporting.

I also expect the media to reign in their guests–keeping them from making gross generalizations as well. I expect them to ask guests for specifics–not stereotypes.

I know this is asking a lot. I don’t expect this to be an easy challenge–even for myself. But, I’m going to try. I challenge you try it yourself as well. Maybe together we can convince the media to jump on the bandwagon as well–if only for a day–and rekindle the individualism of person and thought that America was built upon.

~ by kipwkoelsch on October 17, 2018.


  1. Well, that post didn’t generate much interest. I guess the media isn’t interested in giving this a try. OUR loss 😦

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