Updated: Dec 24, 2021
We are currently living in a 24 hour news cycle.
The site Twingly delivers 3 million news articles a day to its website from over 150,000 active sources worldwide. In 2020, there were an average of 500 billion tweets a day. Every morning we wake up, every hour we check our phones, there’s something new to look at.
There are pro’s and con’s to the cycle, like everything else in life.
News stories can be produced and picked up much quicker because of the demand to fill the news hours. Our information is always current, always relevant, and always at our fingertips. We don’t have to wait until 6pm to hear about the latest election coverage, weather warnings, COVID updates, etc.
However, that amount of news always
being available can leave us feeling burnt out.
Having news on the internet has also led to more opinions based on them. There isn’t just one news anchor on your local station– there are tens of thousands of people online just waiting to share their version of the story. Not to mention, the more scandalous the story, the more buzzworthy the news is, regardless of how factual it is. And so, the waters can get very muddy, very quickly.
It’s growing increasingly important to do your own research when it comes to the news, instead of taking things at face value. Since the news can pump out so quickly, oftentimes stories that were just recently covered change rapidly in light of new evidence and information. Our quickness to jump on the first train we see can be harmful to the actual story, not to mention the people involved in it.
Much like confirmation bias, there can be media bias as well. And it can be very easy to get sucked into only seeing one side of a story, especially with social media algorithms learning to show you more of what you engage in. So, if you only engage in Liberal news-for example, the media may only show you the liberal side of things.
“Media bias is the bias of journalists and news producers in the selection of events and stories that are reported, and how they are covered.” [ X ]
There are also types of bias portrayed in the media.
Bias by Omission. Leaving one side out of an argument (ie: a Conservative article leaving out Liberal opinions, or vice versa); leaving out facts that approve or disapprove a specific side. It can happen within a story, or over a period of time in a series of stories. Important to actively seek both sides of the story.
By Selection of Sources. Including sources that support one view over another. Favoritism in quotes used by sources to showcase their opinion. This bias can also be seen when reporters use phrases like “experts believe” or most people believe”. To pick out this bias, be aware of which political opinions or affiliations that reporter has. When the story includes “expert” sources, research their political side as well. And if the reporter uses “everyday people”, do some research on the actual statistics presented by both sides of the argument.
By Story Selection. A pattern of highlighting news stories that fall on one or the other side of the political scale, while ignoring the opposing side. See if you can find a similar study done by other sources, and compare.
By Placement. Story placement is “a measure of how important the editor thinks the story is”. There are many studies that show how many people only read the headline, or how certain placement/font/size on the newspaper (even online) influence the viewer. Be cautious to read the entire article you see shared, not just the headline.
By Labeling. Applying extreme labels to different sources in an unfair manner, or labeling some but not others based on their side of the argument. ex: “ultra-conservative”, “ultra-liberal”, “far-left”, “far-right”. Not all labeling is biased or incorrect, but it is important to take note of the intentions. We can see it in other news articles– some may label a school shooter as a “troubled teen” and some might label them as a “monster” depending on the angle the story wants you to see.
By Spin. “Bias by spin occurs when the story has only one interpretation of an event or policy, to the exclusion of the other; spin involves tone – it’s a reporter’s subjective comments about objective facts; makes one side’s ideological perspective look better than another.”
Luckily, there are many resources out there to aid in gathering proper information.
Two great sites that compile and categorize news stories are:
Both websites have easy to use platforms, daily compiled information and facts, and many categories.
While it may take more time to do your own research, it is also so important to do. Forming our own opinions and making sure we see all sides of the stories presented to us keeps us from hopping on that cancel bandwagon so quickly. We can hone our critical thinking skills and begin having more open conversations with our peers without fear of rejection or offense.