The media is what people rely on to educate themselves on what is going on in the world. I find myself having to go to multiple different news outlets to try to get the full story but, even then, I’m unsure if I am getting all the information I deserve.
During the 2020 presidential election, I remember thinking Republicans favored Fox and Democrats favored CNN. I saw this in my friends and family — how their political parties correlated to which news stations they watched. However, why would each party favor a specific outlet, unless the outlets aren’t giving both sides? Naturally, news outlets can’t consistently give every side of a story justice, but it often seems they’re not even trying.
Of course, I understand news stations are businesses that need to please their audience, so they give them what they want. But I don’t understand why people don’t want both sides of a story.
When people seek more information about a particular story and acknowledge both sides, they in turn become more conscious of the issue at hand.
News that makes us happy or confirms our beliefs is comforting and interesting. I understand that. But when you can learn a lot more, wouldn’t you want to take that opportunity?
A study done by political scientists from UC Berkeley and Yale found when traditionally Fox-only viewers read from CNN and other sources, they were able to process the information and become more aware of U.S. politics. I imagine this phenomenon applies both ways because people are becoming more aware of other perspectives. There isn’t a negative to this outcome as people gaining more knowledge is always a wonderful thing.
Everyone knows news outlets are inevitably biased, just as everyone is unconsciously biased in some form. Instead of trying to get rid of the bias, we need to ensure these news outlets put out true and accurate information, not just information that benefits one group. When looking at The Media Bias Chart, CNN skews more left and is significantly more reliable whereas Fox skews right and falls to be quite unreliable. According to a Pew Research Center article, “more than nine in ten journalists surveyed (94%) say made-up news and information is a significant problem in America today.” There are good and bad sides to every story, and while not everyone wants to hear the bad side, there’s no point in ignoring it.
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In the last few years, I think the public has noticed the lack of information they are getting from specific news outlets. Especially with the last two presidential elections and COVID-19 people started to realize their main sources of news are only giving them some of the story at hand.
“A little more than half of the journalists surveyed (55%) say that every side does not always deserve equal coverage in the news. By contrast, 22% of Americans overall say the same, whereas about three-quarters (76%) say journalists should always strive to give all sides equal coverage,” according to a Pew Research Center article.
I understand where the journalists are coming from in the sense that both sides don’t need equal coverage. However, I think that both sides need to be covered to an extent. Not everything can be equal, but journalists should strive to cover what is going on, not just part of what's going on.
The news isn’t perfect, and it never will be, but I think news outlets should try harder to report both sides of a story instead of just what is going to make its viewers happy. Nobody is going to be 100% happy about what is on the news and that’s okay.
Faith Badgley (she/her) is a freshman studying media advertising.