Every day, thousands of newsworthy events occur. However, few people actually learn of said events from a reputable news source (e.g. The New York Times, NPR, etc.). The majority of the population finds out their news from their friends, either in person or through social-media outlets. This dilutes the accuracy of the news that people accept to be the truth, leading to a generally lower level of information throughout the world. People are not getting accurate information, leading to a biased and inaccurate take on the world; this negatively impacts democracy, because the general populace is uninformed as to what is actually going on in the world, and thus cannot make informed decisions on political issues.
Even though people do not like to think so, everyone is at least slightly biased. Therefore, when they are verbally reporting a story to another person, it is slightly inaccurate. This cycle continues when the person who heard the reported story tells their take on it to a friend. The disappointing result of this behavior is people hearing and accepting news that is inaccurate as the truth.
I do not get my news from mobile devices, as I do not have a smartphone. However, despite receiving a majority of my news from NPR and newspapers (Wall Street Journal, San Jose Mercury News), my information is bound to be biased. Every time people tell me news in person, or I see something on Facebook about an event, my opinion is influenced by their bias.
However, for those that do have smartphones, this is an entirely different issue. These people are perpetually connected to the World Wide Web, leading to the possibility of their being continuously influenced by others through texts, social media, and online news sources. When people are “on the grid,” they end up learning a majority of their knowledge regarding current world events through their phones. This is negative, as it leads to their opinions being further biased by the sources they read.
An issue with the bias that occurs because of unofficial news sources is that people choose which sources they choose to read or listen to and accept as the truth. Most people do not want to hear things that they do not agree with. In this way, people further their bias by their own means. This is ironic, because people tend to complain about the biased nature of news, but in the end, they are the ones who are making the news bias.
People should get their information from a mixture of sources, each with different biases (e.g., conservative and liberal). In this way, the bias that is guaranteed when learning news from anything or anyone is mostly eliminated. The learner can determine which source they believe for certain issues by gauging at which points two stories overlap.
You cannot count on receiving unbiased information; it is up to the receiver to decide how they will receive the information.
However, if current trends continue, and supposed “news” sources continue to adjust their reporting so as to attract readers (by reporting to entertain rather than to inform), there will be fewer reputable news sources. It will become even more the role of the reader to discern between news sources that actually report news, and those that merely entertain. It will likely become frustrating to readers like myself who want to receive accurate information when hearing news.
Click here to read other essays on “How kids get their news.”
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