Why We Must Garner News From Multiple Outlets
June 16, 2020
Brief commentary on the significance of nonpartisan awareness.
Amidst the galvanizing hemorrhage of recent global events and social justice tribulations that have consumed our news feeds, social media has taught us that everyone has a voice in these events. Yet, we have arrived at an age where our harbingers of awareness are not to be trusted -- at least not until a collective representation of an event is garnered by wading through estuaries of manipulative rhetoric and journalistic biases. Whether this be the earnest flaw of the craft or the karmic consequence of our latent desires for confirmation bias, one thing stands clear: exclusive submission to a few sources equates to fatal misguidance.
Truth is the fundamental principle of productive conversations. Despite this kind of integrity being the pledge of news outlets to uphold, many such outlets today find themselves in a frantic race to run stories, often without its full volume and fair interpretation. When “ABC’s Brian Ross reported that former Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn revealed that he’d been ordered to contact Russian officials during the campaign," Trump advocates howled piously in celebration of their “righteousness," only to learn shortly after that “Flynn’s instructions came [after the election] during the transition period -- when it was perfectly appropriate for incoming Trumpies to reach out to their counterparts abroad" (Post Editorial Board). Needless to say, the Trump advocates were dejected, but the larger concern resided in the dissolving of ABC’s credibility. An audience had been eclipsed from a truth, and the fallibility of the news outlet’s ability to uphold its responsibility of accurately representing a case was displayed, ensuing in a widespread delusion. In essence, our perceptions are vulnerable to change, but the truth, which ironically, is procured from the eyes of designated others, most certainly are not.
Rewind back a few decades and the same phenomenon can be observed, but with less candid errors. In 1959, a rise of heart disease, was noticed by doctors. Upon investigation, Ancel Keys, an American physiologist, concluded that sugar was the leading cause of the disease, “but only because he cherry-picked his data to get the result he wanted" (Conover). A rivaling researcher, John Yudkin, on the other hand, procured data traditionally, accurately arriving at the conclusion that sugar was the culprit of heart disease and weight gain. Yet, Keys’ popularity won him the undeserving credibility it took for the notion of fat inducing heart disease to be cemented in popular belief, which still alarmingly prevails today. Consequently, media consumers were led astray once again, this time with their understanding of objectivity being the victim of slander. Popular thinks overtook rational opinions based on empirical evidence, and mob mentality became the voice of the generation.
Media bias and misrepresentation may remain a timeless quandary, but our decisions to buy into them don’t have to be. News outlets, despite their noble purpose to inform public masses, are just as fallible as media consumers, and as such, should be trusted only when proven consistent alongside their reporting counterparts. As such, we should only lend authority to what we see and hear when we have exhausted all of our avenues of information so that we can establish outlooks on real world issues in a way that is the most holistic and objective - because unfortunately, journalism doesn't have that luxury.
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