Blurring the Lines

It may come to your surprise, and I hope it does not, when I say that the news has biases and has a very powerful agenda when it comes to shaping public opinion and what it takes to do so. McCutcheon, a reporter and editor for Congressional Quarterly and Newshouse News Service and former assistant managing editor of CQ Researcher, talks about the media’s history of ‘blurring the lines’ between news and commentary and fabricating stories. From a 2016 poll by the Press Institute, a nonpartisan media-research organization in Arlington, VA, “The two biggest reasons people do not trust news are that they consider it one-sided or inaccurate” (McCutcheon). From a recent Gallup poll, only 32% of Americans trust the media! The lowest level recorded since Gallup began asking the same question back in 1972.

The media tends to shift their focus depending on what will cast the most views. This could mean that they have to exaggerate a story in a bias fashion, ultimately shaping public opinion. For example, in my previous blog post, I discuss how Patriot’s quarterback and father, Tom Brady, kissed his son on the lips, and how this interaction between father and son was portrayed by the media in an opposed fashion. This kind of portrayal sparked a media frenzy where viewers and readers began posting their bias opinions all over social media outlets.

This becomes dangerous when news reporting voting can be bias. Howard Kurtz, Washington post media critic, reminisced during President Bush’s campaign. He believed that minority journalists behaved atrociously when President Bush addressed his convention. He stated, “As a journalist, I don’t applaud — or boo — politicians….three-quarters of the Unity convention gave Kerry a standing ovation, but was more more tepid toward President Bush. I think that’s way out of line and opens the minority organizations involved to accusations of political bias” (Greenblatt). Apparentently, Kerry’s speech was interrupted by applause about 50 times, however, Bush received polite clapping. This event illustrated, in Kurtz eyes, “…something that many conservatives have long believed–that much of the media have a liberal bias” (Greenblatt). This becomes dangerous when journalists’ opinions become public and influence viewers opinions. Ultimately, it creates an unfair poll.

Greenblatt, a St. Louis-based freelance writer, and a staff writer for Governing magazine, poses a critical point, “We want reporters to be thoughtful and analytical, but at the same time we want them to be objective and not tell us what they really think about things, and those are two entirely contradictory propositions” (Greenblatt). Fox News is now the leading source for news on cable. Meaning, they have significant influence about what people think about, if not what they think.

The media landscape has changed. There is more media and media outlets now than ever before. This means that your chance of running into “news” that seems biased has increased dramatically, raising the impression that “bias” is pervasive throughout all parts of media. However, we are lucky that we now live in a world where technology is continuously changing and upgrading. At just the tip of our fingers, we may have access to many outlets of media, but we also have access to research and data that proves some of these topics we find to be “bias.” It is because of this that we can teach ourselves and do not need to rely on the news. If we feel that we are being cheated by our news, then we should take charge of our own life and create our own opinions from proven data.

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