Monday, November 6, 2017

"Unbiased journalism" becoming a thing of the past

Anthony Poisal

As the category of media further sinks into a hole of debate in the US, one key aspect of news reporting also appears to be slowly slipping away.

Unbiased journalism.

Ever since the phrase "fake news" was uttered out of Donald Trump's mouth, news outlets have appeared to clearly set themselves apart from one side of the political spectrum.

Perhaps the best example is the distinction of CNN and Fox News, two of the most popular news sources and television channels in the country.

It's not hard to find the distinction. Just check the two channels whenever news against Donald Trump  or news against the democratic party is reported.

Screen-caps of what the two stations show during times of such breaking news, provided by former Ohio University student Timothy Burke, show just how differing the coverage — or sometimes lack thereof — can be and how easily it would be for audiences to fail to grasp the importance of such issues.

Burke captured what was being shown on each channel on Oct. 27 shortly after the news of the first set of charges in the Robert Mueller investigation into Donald Trump's Russian-related probe in the 2016 election.

Another example is from May 16, when Trump allegedly asked James Comey to end the Michael Flynn investigation.

Both of these screen-caps showed CNN and MSNBC discussing the news related to Trump, while Fox News appeared to have turned toward another topic that harmed the Democratic side.

While CNN certainly has had moments of turning the other cheek when some not-so-good Democratic news was released, it still exemplifies how some of the country's largest news sources have dropped off the "unbiased" part of journalism.

Maybe it's because Trump has directly attacked CNN reporters and other sources who have previously released damaging news about the president's reputation. Maybe it's because showing bias draws a bigger audience. Maybe it's both.

No matter the cause, it's not good for journalism, and it won't help the media build trust back with the public.

The result of the biases has led to an uneducated public and a population that has carried one of, if not the strongest political divides the country has seen in decades. Some are stubborn in believing the news that their preferred station report, while some others have no idea what's true and what's false.

Every news outlet, no matter its bias, should at least be concerned with Trump attacking media on seemingly a weekly basis. It's damaging not only to the reputation of news sources but to the first amendment, and while there are certainly limitations to the argument that Trump wouldn't mind censoring media, a strong case can be made that that's exactly what he strives to do.

If Trump continues to degrade media, don't expect the biases of numerous, if not all news outlets to continue. For the news outlets, the ethical purposes of staying along the lines of unbiased reporting wasn't a good enough reason before the heightened attacks on media. With arguably the most important figure in the country now heading the attacks, it'll only be harder for reporters to show unbiased news coverage.

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