Coming off controversies surrounding coverage of the US presidential election and with the recent shooting incident at a pizza parlor that was named in a fake news story about the Clintons, I got to thinking about where you get your news today.
In the past, newspapers and television were the two main sources where you would get your news. But honestly, I don’t even know if they still deliver an actual newspaper anywhere anymore. And if so, I assume that an even smaller number actually get it delivered everyday.
Does Anyone Still Read a Newspaper?
I regularly read the digital versions of two newspapers – the local paper and the Wall Street Journal. I also tend to watch the local news in the mornings while we’re getting ready and a cable news show in the evening before going to bed.
But I’ve never watched the national network news regularly. That was more for my grandparents generation. Their schedules were predictable. They left the office at 5:00, got home by 5:30, and had the network news on by 6:00. That never worked in my family’s schedule. School activities, sports, and work didn’t revolve around that schedule. The national network news is broadcast too early in the evening.
What has taken the place of newspapers and network news are the always-on cable news shows and the thousands of online and social media sources.
Obviously, a large number of people rely on Facebook and Twitter for their news and information. And while I understand why that’s the case, it makes me a little sad. It’s not just a sense of nostalgia for the good old days, but it’s because newspapers and television news tended to go into much greater depth on stories than you find on social media. And because there was less competition for news, those outlets tended to focus less on sensationalism, ratings, and the entertainment value of news and more on the stories themselves.
Today’s news organizations are looking for viewers and ratings as much as anyone else. And headlines grab ratings more than in-depth reporting.
Is There a Bias in Social Media News?
A positive aspect of social media taking on a greater share of how people get their news is removing the bias that exists in traditional news reporting. One of the great things touted about social media as a news source is that while traditional news organizations decide what is news and how to report it and thus are inherently biased, social media is a neutral platform.
But while that sounds good, it’s not entirely accurate. At the very least, social media as a news source is biased by the users of that platform. And as was made evident during the campaign, there can be a bias in determining which stories get highlighted in news feeds. And even more significant, because there is less editorial oversight, there is a much greater potential for fake news on social media than on a traditional news outlet.
To counter this, Facebook has recently indicated that they may start doing a better job vetting stories for accuracy. But the more they intervene, the more they risk introducing an editorial bias into their content.
Do Your Own Homework
Wherever you get your news from, don’t just blindly accept its authenticity. Realize that even if the facts are accurate, there are still biases in all forms, from what gets covered to how it gets reported.
Do additional research taking into account differing opinions. Stay away from only relying on sources that reinforce an already held belief and instead, find sources that challenge your point of view.
Make up your own mind.
Readers, where do you get your news?