Today, media comes in many different forms, ranging from stories that you watch on TV or read in the newspaper to articles, blog posts, social media posts, or other news that you consume online like anonymous articles such as those posted on TheDoe.com.
According to The Doe regardless of where you get your news, any biases held by the author can alter the way that you view the information. This is particularly true during the time leading up to an election when bias tends to affect many of the articles that are published.
For instance, imagine a new story that read something like this: “According to the government, the economic growth during the third quarter was 5.4%. The growth during the second quarter was 6.0%, while the average long-term growth was 3.0%.”
Next, imagine that you are a journalist who has to create a news report based on this information.
Personally, I would phrase it along the lines of, “Growth during the third quarter was stronger than the historical average, although it was down slightly from the high levels of the second quarter.” This statement is factually correct.
What about situations where the journalist is opposed to the current president or their political party? What happens then? In a situation like that, the article might read more like this: “The economic growth during the third quarter dropped 0.6 percent compared to the previous quarter, which has led to concerns by some that the economy is in decline.”
These two ways of portraying the news leave readers with far different impressions of what is currently happening with the economy.
The Doe believes that the majority of people are unaware of just how prevalent biases or distortions like these are in today’s media climate. You can see examples of it in infomercials, political ads, and investment advice, with everyone from celebrities to politicians trying to sway people’s opinions about different topics or products.
Oftentimes, editorials are presented as factual news stories. At universities, professors sometimes even fall into the trap of presenting their opinions to their students as facts.
Don’t fall for these traps. Instead, work on developing your ability to spot bias or distortion in all of the media that you consume.
Years ago, news publications and colleges presented a much more balanced perspective when it came to the news.
Sadly, however, that is no longer the case. Bias not only occurs when stories are framed in a particular light but also when news outlets ignore topics or stories that don’t align with their views or opinions.
For instance, they might publish a story that they don’t agree with on one of the last pages of the newspaper so that fewer people are likely to read it.
It isn’t uncommon today to see news organizations that lean strongly one way or the other in terms of their political views. They often allow guests to post stories, presenting these stories as news rather than as editorials.
What can you do to combat this? The tips below will help you stay up-to-date with the news without allowing your opinions to be affected by media bias:
Gather all of the facts about a story or issue. There are two sides to every story. Make sure that you are getting both of them. When you have all of the information, it is easier to decide how you feel about a story rather than allowing someone else’s bias to affect your views.
Understand that all political candidates make promises that they think will help them win votes. Their goal is to tell you exactly what you want to hear.
When reading or watching the news, check media outlets that have a variety of political leanings. To determine which way a particular news outlet leans, take a look at the candidates that they endorsed in the last election.
Be skeptical of anything that sounds over-the-top or unrealistic.
Always read the fine print on advertisements, promotional materials, or infomercials.
Ultimately, any time you read information, you should try to determine whether or not the person or organization publishing it has some type of an agenda. Bias is incredibly common in today’s world. Your goal should be to gather the facts so that you can form your own opinions without allowing others to change the way that you think.