BIAS: Single mothers

Bias can be very subtle, and subtle bias can be more dangerous than overt prejudice. In February 2012, an article appeared in the New York Times on the growing numbers of single-parent families, with a specific focus on one town in Ohio. It was criticized by Slate Magazine for hiding its judgmental bias behind a veneer of liberal thinking.

In this lesson we will explore both the original article from the New York Times and the criticism that followed, looking for examples of bias. We will study how the mass media use language to inform and persuade, which is the third learning outcome for Part 3. In doing so, we will develop an awareness of the potential for ideological influence in the media.


A series of de-contextualized quotes has been taken from the New York Times article, titled ‘For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage’ (see below). Paying particular attention to the connotation of words, and implicit messages, reflect on the meaning of these quotes based on your own experience and knowledge. After reflecting on their meaning, read the full article,next to each quote write your comments about possible bias.


Single mothers

A. It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal.
B. Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America.
C. Meanwhile, children happen.
D. She described her children as largely unplanned, a byproduct of uncommitted relationships.
E. I want to do things with her, but I end up falling asleep.






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