What started as originally three news sources with the intention to keep the general public informed has evolved into an overwhelming number of outlets working to spread their pervasive political opinions. This is the media’s landscape today. We live in a new age where outlets cater to specific niche audiences under the false pretense of objectivity while being nakedly partisan.
This began in the fringes of academia, where ‘wokeism’ and many of the racial and gender sensitivity debates that are permeating the current political discussion originated. Young business professionals have normalized these unconventional ideas, such as CRT, in the workplace and in the media. If you do not support BLM, you are racist. If you believe in supporting free and fair elections, you are contributing to what President Biden referred to as “21st century Jim Crow” laws. If you are not critical of America, you are bigoted. Free thought and productive conversation have been halted by the nichification of the media industry.
A Gallup survey showed that an overwhelming 68% of Americans believe that the information they are receiving from television, newspapers, and radio outlets are biased. Most Americans also believe that 44% of news reporting is simply inaccurate. Social media further exacerbates these rates, with individuals believing that 80% of the news on social media platforms is biased and 64% inaccurate. Not only are these numbers extremely disheartening but also people don’t dare to push back because of fear of being alienated. Dissenting thought leads to persecution in the workplace, verbal attacks on family members, and heinous retribution. It has become so common to see opposing ideas distinguished with claims of “isms”, racism, sexism, ageism, etc.
This sense of groupthink has produced media bias. Researchers from Texas A&M University and Arizona State University conducted research questioning 462 financial journalists around the country, all who worked for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Associated Press, and a variety of other outlets. 17% self-identified as “very liberal”, 40% described themselves as “somewhat liberal” while a mere .46% identified as “very conservative” and 3.9% were “somewhat conservative,” thereby producing a ratio of 13 left-leaning writers for every 1 right-leaning writer. Writers are being blinded by bias, leading them to relinquish a healthy level of skepticism, not only weakening the strength of journalism but drastically misinforming the public.
There are a multitude of ways bias pervades the media. Bias through headlines is one of the most prevalent. CNN and Fox News, the archetype for the two most polarizing sources, perfectly depicted this when it was announced that First Lady Jill Biden would travel to the Olympics. CNN announced this with “Jill Biden will travel to Japan for the Olympics” while Fox News’ title was coined “Jill Biden to travel to Tokyo for summer Olympics despite ban on spectators.” Both news outlets announced the same event, but each one had a vastly different connotation. Headlines are often deceptive as their goal is to ultimately grab your attention. Many individuals browse news sites and simply skim over the headlines rather than diving into the content, therefore creating a distorted and dramatized perception of what is actually occurring.
Similarly, there is bias through the use of language. The power of diction is not to be underestimated. One person’s “revolutionary” is another person’s “terrorist,” and word choice can dramatically alter a reader’s impression of a person or event. Arguably, there is a powerful bias through repetition. Repeating a particular event or idea can perpetuate the idea that it is much more prevalent or more important than it actually is. Take for example the Russia-Collusion hoax, in which the event was completely fabricated, but through sources such as CNN, the New York Times, Representative Schiff, and many others, these false allegations spread like wildfire. Many today still believe these claims to be true.
Media outlets have sewn mistrust in our institutions, confusing the American people through dissonance. Many seek to understand that they know their neighbors and peers are not racist or bigoted, but when someone is surrounded by information from what are supposed to be credible sources telling you otherwise, it creates a sense of confusion. The media is overinflating and exacerbating the division in our nation.
So, what is the solution? Instead of relinquishing the ideal of unbiased news coverage, we, the people, the readers, need to hold journalists, reporters, editors, owners, and publishers accountable for the information they are producing. We must become better consumers of news and be willing to put in the work to seek objective truth. Outlets who are acting in good faith must be encouraged in their fight and we must warn future generations of the superfluous utilization of “isms.” Lastly, we simply must stop buying into it, further feeding into the sources who perpetuate lies. We must “unsubscribe,” both literally and figuratively. Our nation depends on it.