Sunday, November 15, 2015
Unbiased or Affirmative?
Twitter is my favorite website. But it’s not because I actually care that that person I met one time is too tired to get out of bed, or because I’m going to answer a poll asking if I’d rather eat cookie dough or actual cookies. Rather, Twitter is my primary source of news—my tailored, biased, exactly-what-I-want-to-read, news source.
We live in a fast-paced digital age, so typing in various websites and scrolling through their feed is far too time consuming. With Twitter, all I have to do is open my phone and my entire feed is filled with news from The Huffington Post, New York Times, and Buzzfeed. When Planned Parenthood was under attack, my entire feed was decorated pink. During GOP debates, my feed is filled with pictures making fun of Donald Trump’s hair that day. And I can tailor my own account and acknowledge to my followers what articles I agreed with or found interesting with a simple retweet or a like. It’s efficient.
This picking of the news we consume is a 2015 luxury. Years ago, people had to read through entire newspapers to get current event updates. Whether they liked the topic or not, they read it because that’s what they had to read to keep up to date with what was going on in the world.
In a New York Times article, Brooke Gladstone states that Americans claim to seek unbiased, accurate news, but polls suggest otherwise; Americans are actually seeking affirmation. While I’d like to say I seek unbiased news coverage on breaking events, I have to admit I’d be much more likely to click on an article by The Huffington Post instead of Fox News. In fact, I don’t even have to be exposed to Fox News, because I don’t follow their Twitter account. I even have the power to “mute” the tweets of certain followers who might retweet a Fox News article, so their tweets won’t come up on my timeline.
Gladstone suggests that perhaps this affirmation might make us think we trust the news media more. It’s true. She goes on to state that in comparison to many public institutions—such as organized religion, the Supreme Court and the banks—news media is actually doing pretty well, trust-wise. We trust the news on our feeds because it aligns with our political beliefs and with our personally held beliefs. We are stuck in our own points of view.
The most important thing we as media students, journalists and citizens of the United States can do is to be aware of media biases. Whether you agree with the liberally-slanted media or not, it’s important to know that just 7 percent of journalists identify as republicans.
After reading this article, perhaps I’ll make a change to my Twitter feed. Maybe I’ll follow some more conservative accounts, and unfollow a few “Bernie Sanders 2016” accounts. The best thing one can do is to gather information and simply be aware.