Journalist Charles Wiley Speaks about Media Bias to Students and Alumni

International correspondent Charles Wiley addressed students, alumni, and faculty members December 1. Wiley spoke about media bias. Photos by Michael Clark '12

Journalist Charles Wiley spoke to Moravian students, alumni, and faculty members about media bias and the way it influences society at a December 1campus appearance.

 A World War II veteran, Wiley has covered 11 wars, reporting from more than 100 different countries, including four trips to Vietnam. During the course of his work, he was arrested eight times by secret police, including the KGB, and was imprisoned in Cuba. Wiley helped establish guidelines for a free press in Mongolia and was a speaker for the White House Public Outreach Group.

In his lecture "Media Bias - Key to the Future," Wiley asserted that the news media is the "most powerful force in society." It shapes what we talk about, how we think about things, and most importantly, what goes on the political agenda and when.

The distinction between the classic, objective reporter who sought to report just the facts and the new advocate reporter who slants stories to influence others is an important one to Wiley. Slanting the news is leaving out details and injecting bias into a story.

"They're trying to change reality," said Wiley of advocate reporters. "If you change the image of reality for any length of time, you change reality." The media has the power to report how it pleases on the issues it deems important, giving it the ability to warp reality and change history.

"Bias and opinion can be really destructive," said Joseph M. Mangan '72, who finds media bias to be a "crisis" in journalism and an obstacle to his work as a historian, for which he must account for slants and biases. History books are often "dead wrong," claimed Wiley, because of the way media covered the stories of the past.

"The bottom line is you're barraged my misinformation and disinformation at a time when we desperately need information," said Wiley. "We've got problems that we've gotta solve, and we are not going to solve them until we get the media straightened out."

Now in his 80s, Wiley claims to have drawn a paycheck for 79 of those years due, in part, to his short career as a child star on Vaudeville and his enlistment in the U.S. Navy at just 13, before he became a military correspondent.

The lecture was hosted by the Moravian accounting club, advised by John Rossi, associate professor of accounting. When Rossi and Wiley were seated together on a recent air flight and got to talking, Rossi seized the opportunity to invite Wiley to campus to address Moravian students, alumni, and faculty.

By Kelly Fackenthall '12