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The United States has the most developed, thriving and advanced mass media in the world. Throughout the year, we learned about the different amendments in our Constitution. And as we all know, it is the most important document in our country because of its protection. It protects the basic freedoms of all United States citizens. ¨Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances¨ (The Constitution).
In the United States Constitution, the First Amendment talks about freedom of the press. But what exactly does “the freedom of the press” include? The First Amendment “is generally understood to prevent the government from interfering with the distribution of information and opinions. Nevertheless, freedom of the press is subject to certain restrictions, such as defamation law”. Because of all freedoms and power the country gives to the media, sometimes, most media outlets end up using the power for the bad. This misuse of power can create and/or introduce to many issues – one of them being, media bias.
As always, there are two sides of every debate. A journalism teacher at Warwick Valley High School, Miss Markt strongly believes that bias in media isn’t present. When asked about it, she said, “Journalism is about chronicling the truth. It is absurd that people talk about fake news when there is proof of something happening and documented.” She continued, “I know some people think selecting and choosing an article idea can be based on bias in media but all news outlets do that.” When one talks about media bias, because of what has been happening in our country, we immediately start thinking about fake news. Yes, there is one point that Miss Markt made which can be agreed with.
Fake news is very hard to prove since most reliable news outlets do not only show proof of the event but also have proper documentation. But media bias does not only consist of fake news. Going back to Miss Markt’s justification, selecting and choosing an article can be presented as media bias. Yes, sadly, almost all news outlets do that. But, that is what we need to remove completely from our society and the media world. Like Miss Markt said. “Journalism is about chronicling the truth.” That is what every news outlet should remember.
Whether the news they present, helps or doesn’t help the political party they are supporting, they still need to present it to the world in its purest form. But what exactly is media bias? According to Wikipedia, ‘media bias is the bias or perceived bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media in the selection of events and stories that are reported and how they are covered.’
In one of the articles in Business Insider, the writer points out to the fact that there are more liberal news outlets than conservative. Some of the points are very crucial to this research as they help in understanding the whole discussion. When we focus on cable outlets, “a whopping 44% of those who responded to Pew’s survey said they got news from CNN in the past week. Other network and cable news outlets — Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, and MSNBC — took the remaining top five spots. Fox’s audience leans conservative, while CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC have audiences that lean left.” Whereas newspapers, “…The New York Times and USA Today ranked highest, but their numbers still didn’t compare to those of the TV networks.
Only 13% of respondents reported getting news from the Times in the past week, while 12% said they got news from USA Today. The average Times reader identifies as mostly liberal, while USA Today is more mixed but still leaning left.” Solution to combat this problem According to the New York Times, a company in Seattle had found just the way to combat this problem. …what if there were a device that objectively flagged questionable elements in online news articles, poking and parsing words and phrases, and letting you contribute your own critiques?
Well, a Seattle company called SpinSpotter has produced a piece of software — a free download that works within a Web browser — that tries to do just that… Any attempt to judge news articles could rely on experts, a broad audience of readers or a set of formulas. SpinSpotter combines all three, but for now the formulas are still being adjusted, the audience is not yet big enough, and it remains to be seen how unbiased or effective the experts are.
Unfortunately, this company’s product did not last longer. Before it even made a change, it had died. All of this was back in 2008. Since then, there hasn’t been any other solutions that were such a great idea. If we were to break it back – a better, new, improved version of SpinSpotter – we could possibly make a change in the future. Another idea, inspired from SpinSpotter, is that each news outlet have a watchdog. A committee which studies the article that are going to be publishes and focuses on media bias. A committee known to only detect media bias and remove it if present. To keep it fair and make it work, we have some form of diversity within the committee – i.e. different race, religion, etc. and/or even people from all sides of the political party spectrum.
In this committee, we should not have more of liberal or conservative, since that may spark the light all over again. It is crucial that we select people who aren’t biased, strong supporters of any political party, open-minded, etc. Think of it as almost jury duty. Just like a jury, we would want the committee to be absolutely not biased and open-minded. Compared to SpinSpotter, it seems like a better idea since it does not only work “online” but it is more controlled. This idea also presents the fact that each news outlet would have their own watchdog committee.
At the end of the day, we would want only the purest form of news to be presented. And this does not mean that news outlets are not allowed to debate on political issues and give their opinion. They can, but it would have to be done at a certain time. Specifically, when a debate is on. Not all the time, for example, during the presentation of the breaking news. Another small solution, that could make a change, could be that each news outlet has equal representation of people supporting both sides of political party so that a news outlet is no longer looked as a liberal or conservative news outlet.
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