by Tyler Williams
Let’s face it. Everyone is biased whether we’re aware of it or not. It doesn’t matter what group affiliation a person belongs to, whether liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism, capitalism, socialism, or communism. The only thing that matters when disseminating information to the masses is accuracy and truth. Therefore, media bias should not deter us from wanting to see the bigger picture.
It’s clear that media outlets have evolved overtime with the emergence of social media, podcasts, and multimedia channels. You would think the more outlets, the more open-minded we would be. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Yet, it did not change our ability to look at information from an objective point of view to solve problems. Nowadays, everyone is stringing along like puppets when it comes to accessing information. It’s not just the people, it’s the pundits and the press. According to the Society of Professional Journalists, this organization declares four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media. The four principles are to “seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent”.
On the left and right side of the political spectrum, there has been some cherry picking in order to fit into their respected narrative. Recently, some outlets are not adhering to the code of ethics. It may not be the law, but it is highly recommended by the organization to be accurate in order to gain credibility. The problem is that media outlets gain “credibility” by spinning information to fit their narrative. In turn, their narrative will only attract people who subscribe to their respective ideology and will perceive the narrative as the truth. It’s one thing to have an opinion or bias, but when it clouds the person from seeing the bigger picture or greater truth, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Personally, I don’t care so much about bias, I care about accuracy. Nonetheless, in order to combat misinformation and media inaccuracy, there are two sources of information I want to share with everyone, so they can peep the game. The first one is AllSides, this outlet allows the masses to access information from all sides of the political spectrum. This website shows news stories from liberal, moderate, and conservative perspectives. It gives readers the opportunity to discover their own bias when looking at the news. According to their editorial philosophy, “AllSides displays the news as it is covered from a breadth of perspectives. That includes different perspectives on the same story, as well as different opinions on the day's top stories.” If you think AllSides are solely focused on the mainstream political parties, think again. For instance, their philosophy further states:
“We give voice to perspectives often ignored. We don’t just show Left, Center and Right perspectives, but also perspectives representing everything from Socialist to Libertarian, Blue-dog Democrat to Mainstream Republican, Progressive to Social Conservative, and everything in between. That means stories that might be missing entirely from leading news sites but are top headlines for a specific group will often appear on AllSides. Still, we're not perfect. We do our best, but there may be perspectives we miss.”
Next, the second source is AdFontesMedia. This company uses charts to evaluate how people access information from various media outlets and shows the level of accuracy and bias for each media outlet.
(Source: Ad Fontes Media)
When I found out about this website, I felt like I found one of the most essential websites that every journalist and media consumer should have in their bookmarks. Shoutout to Vanessa Otero, creator of the Media Bias Chart. The mission of Ad Fontes Media is “to make news consumers smarter and news media better.” Furthermore, the website’s “about page” states:
“We rate the news for reliability and bias to help people navigate the news landscape. Ad Fontes is Latin for “to the source,” because at the heart of what Ad Fontes Media does is look at the source—analyze the very content itself—to rate it. We have created a system of news content ratings that has beneficial applications for all stakeholders in a healthy news media landscape, including consumers, educators, journalism outlets, researchers, advertisers, and social media platforms.”
At the end of day, we’re humans who are biased. By nature, we are subjective, meaning everyone has their own tastes and preferences. As a result, having preconceived prejudices and perceptions about the world as a whole is inevitable. For every human walking on this planet, there is a subjective world and perspective orbiting around us. Good lord, that’s about seven billion perspectives, and worlds and counting. However, the goal should not be to increase our worldview. It is to acknowledge the reality that there are multiple realities in the minds of others by evolving to view the bigger picture with truth and accuracy. The truth is, your world is not the world itself; your perception may be your reality, but try your best to not confuse your bias for truth.
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