Nearly every day someone shouts the word 'balanced' at me. If I write a comment piece people agree with I'm told it's balanced, which it plainly isn't. If people disagree, they tell me it's not balanced, which is accurate and also uninteresting. In the comment section of a newspaper or website, these assessments are simply misguided. But in the news pages they are proving increasingly proving harmful to political debate. The search for 'balance' is misguided, confused, unhelpful and ultimately impossible.
Its prevalence in our discourse is partly a legacy of our parliamentary system, where balance is actually very easy to achieve. In parliament there are a set number of parties with set views on whatever topic is being discussed. It is easy to achieve balance because it is a closed system. Political debate outside of parliament, on the other hand, includes thousands of views, an endless complexity of opinion in which balance is impossible. After such a long period of parliament