Picking Apart Media Bias

This+media+bias+chart+created+by+Ad+Fontes+Media+shows+the+quality+of+news%2C+on+the+vertical+axis%2C+and+bias%2C+on+the+horizontal+axis.
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Picking Apart Media Bias

This media bias chart created by Ad Fontes Media shows the quality of news, on the vertical axis, and bias, on the horizontal axis.

This media bias chart created by Ad Fontes Media shows the quality of news, on the vertical axis, and bias, on the horizontal axis.

This media bias chart created by Ad Fontes Media shows the quality of news, on the vertical axis, and bias, on the horizontal axis.

This media bias chart created by Ad Fontes Media shows the quality of news, on the vertical axis, and bias, on the horizontal axis.

BK Stancil, Writer

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We live in a society, where we hear just as much about the media producing “fake news,” as we do hear about the actual news they produce. At this very moment, we are experiencing a monumental power struggle in journalism. With so many news outlets that each have their own opinions, and political biases, it’s nothing short of a battlefield.

There is an inevitable bias that all media, regardless of their political preferences, contain,” Dr. Joshua Sperber, professor of political science and history, said. “Specifically, the very decision-making that occurs when, say, a newspaper determines what constitutes the news.”

There is more to bias in the media than political agendas. Media and journalism are a human enterprise. What one editor deems newsworthy, another editor may not. Journalism has such a large human aspect that is nearly impossible to eliminate bias.

“I don’t think it is possible for unbiased media to exist,” Sperber said. “If we look at the most supposedly unbiased press, what we see is that it is not in fact neutral but, as one political scientist has put it, merely conventional.”

Although, there are certain media outlets who do have very apparent political agendas.  

“Media outlets are biased and favor specific political groups,” junior Hunter Leprell said. “For example, Fox News is more Republican, whereas CNN is more Democrat.”

The ability to be aware of an outlet’s bias can be a valuable asset when looking for factual news.

It’s also important to remember the purpose of the media is to make a profit. Media outlets are going to continue to publish what they believe is going to sell the best.

“The media don’t exist in a vacuum. Mainstream newspapers, network and cable stations, and websites are in fact owned by massive private corporations,” Sperber said. “While such multinational corporations hardly agree on everything, they do share immediate vested financial and thereby broad political interests.”

It’s this business aspect of media that plays a role in further diluting, and confusing actual news from personal agenda. Therefore, begging the question of how to avoid media bias.

Junior Sawyer Smith has developed a system that works well for him.

“I follow websites online that are more centrist in nature, talking about what’s actually (morally) good and bad,” Smith said.

Sperber suggests that students who want to understand the world, read as much and as widely as possible.

“Students should read not only news sites but also, and I’d say more importantly, history books,” Sperber said. “It’s by studying history that we can develop an understanding of the contexts that are necessary to make sense of the news.”

By exposing themselves to as much current news, as well as historical events, students will be able to start forming their own educational opinions on world events. Through this self-education, they will be able to better understand the constantly shifting and contradicting nature of today’s media.