As 2020 approaches, it’s apparent that the upcoming election will be even more divisive than 2016 was. Brace yourself for a bumpy ride, especially if you’re a Democrat. It’s worth repeating the obvious: the sources where conservatives and liberals “get” their news are quite different.
A study from Pew Research in 2017 found that 40 percent of Trump supporters said that their main source for news is Fox News. Next was CNN (8 percent) and Facebook (7 percent). For Clinton supporters, CNN was their main news source (18 percent) followed by MSNBC (9 percent) and Facebook (8 percent).
Of course Facebook doesn’t have a News Department, and neither does Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites. If a person is getting “news” from a social media site, it means that they are seeing news stories posted on their personal news feeds based upon the algorithms which the social media outlet has developed. A 23-year-old female who supports and follows Senator Bernie Sanders will see vastly different social media stories than a right-leaning 62-year-old male – me – will see.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT
How objective are your news outlets? Are they conducting original reporting, that is assigning reporters to do research, ask questions, and investigate facts? Are they engaging in news analysis? If they present opinion stories, are they labeled as such and are they balanced? There are some of the questions which we, those who consume news and rely on it for forming our opinions, should answer.
Fortunately, there are guides to help us in the process. Two people, Sharyl Attkisson (a long-time reporter, including many years with CBS News) and Vanessa Otero, a patent attorney, have developed charts which “place” the media on charts for bias. Both charts are below. If you wish visit their websites yourself at https://sharylattkisson.com/2019/04/media-bias-chart-analysis/ and at www.mediabiaschart.com, and at (NOTE: There’s a charge associated with downloading and using Otero’s chart.)
If you are concerned about bias in the media you consume, I’d advise you to bookmark this website or save these charts yourself on your laptop, tablet, or mobile device, and refer to one of both of them often. It will help you ascertain the biases of the news you are consuming. This is not a “pitch” for you to look “left” or “right” as you watch or read, but rather to recognize the biases that are inherent in your news.
Here’s the warning: If you find yourself looking at news sources regularly which are NOT on either of these charts, you would be right to suspect that you could be looking at a “fake” news story. See the blog post from November 27 (below) for more details on how to be on guard against that.
There is also a good website, www.mediabiasfacthcheck.com, which you can rely upon for a quick check on the accuracy of news stories.
As we enter 2020, this web site will be devoted to some educational activities. For example, in the U.S. we have five important freedoms given to us in the First Amendment to the Constitution: Freedom of press, freedom of religious expression, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to petition (protest) our government when it make poor laws or regulations. All five of freedoms do not exist in many democracies the way the do in the U.S.
Sometimes there are good reasons for this. After Hitler, Germany abolished “hate speech” and has laws regulating free speech and the freedom of the press. They have taken steps to prevent a repeat of the media and expression becoming perverted to support a Third Reich-type of movement. Many nations in Europe have followed this example.
Our globe’s democracies are coming to grips with a major evil, disinformation and disinformation campaigns in various ways. We’ll begin to explore than in January.
Finally – I’m glad to visit your community group or college or university campus to talk about Disinformation, Fake News, and how it’s adversely impacting our society in 2020 and beyond. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at 216-987-5040 if you are interested. My research writing and speaking about these topics are part of my work as a Mandel Faculty Fellow at Cuyahoga Community College. Here’s information about the Mandel Program at Tri-C.
Any Northeast Ohio high school junior or senior who’s interested in developing leadership skills and creating positive change for themselves and their communities would be well advised to look into the Mandel Scholars Academy Program.
Many thanks also to Nicholas Phillips at 1420 AM “The Answer,” who interviewed me for his program The Advocate. Tune in Sunday (Dec. 22) at 8 p.m. to hear the interview.
The statioin’s website is: https://whkradio.com/