All Media is Biased
Claire Celsi is the Director of Public Relations at Lessing-Flynn in Des Moines, Iowa.
During the recent George Zimmerman trial, I heard every conceivable angle on each minute detail coming out of the day’s proceedings…ad nauseum.
After the verdict, every person, radio commentator, every news program and talk show had a parade of experts on, touting their angle and their opinion. Like our country, the bias for one side or the other was on full display.
I cringe when I hear people decry the bias of their hometown newspaper or popular cable news network. They are under the assumption that we’re playing by the same journalistic rules that we were 50 years ago.
Back then, there were a few “major” newspapers, three networks, no cable news shows, no internet and no social media. We were all “fed” the same information and didn’t have news sources that catered specifically to our belief system or political persuasion. Of course, there were magazines and newspapers on the fringe of the discussion, but they didn’t have an influence on the culture as a whole.
Now, the situation is very different. Each of us are able to watch, listen, read or surf wherever we want, at the click of a button. It’s much easier to find “information” that caters to our underlying belief system. Unfortunately, that is also what’s behind the polarization of our politics and an increasing gap between fact and reality.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself in this information age is to learn how to sort out fact from fiction. Identify a few news sources that you can really trust, and then brush up on your old school investigative methods to sift out the spin.
Here are some of the resources I use to find the information I’m looking for to discern the day’s news.
- The library. Public libraries are packed with reputable resources. Ask your friendly local librarian for a tour of the reference section. A lot of these databases are available from their online as well.
- Transcripts: If you’re looking to prove a point, there’s nothing more powerful than an official transcript.
- Scientific studies by independent sources. Credible sources don’t have a stake in the argument one way or another. One example that comes to mind is the Pew Research Center.
- Snopes - If you get an email or see a Facebook post that seems a little hokey, especially if it's asking you to believe something you haven't seen in the news, check it on Snopes.com. This website independently verifies whether it's true, false, or somewhere in between.
- Your own brain. Sometimes if something looks ridiculous, sounds ridiculous, and seems ridiculous, it’s RIDICULOUS. Use your head.
Bottom line, no one is right all of the time. Except my friend Brett Trout on Facebook.