By Charlie Gengler | USA
During the 2016 presidential election, and Trump’s first year of his presidency, the lid on the media bias was blown open. Conservatives, libertarians, and honest liberals all voicing their opposition to the bias, and for once they had a voice. Fox News has long been known to harbor a strong conservative bias, but for a while, people were, perhaps willfully, ignorant of CNN’s, MSNBC’s, CNBC’s, etc. Yet this raises an interesting question, is this actually a problem?
The majority would certainly say yes. This is an obvious answer if you want factual reporting and not to have your news tainted with unnecessary opinions. So we hold reporters to a high bar, a bar of honesty, rigorous research, and completely un-editorialized writing. There’s only one problem with this, it cannot and will not work. People have biases, and people will state them. The vast majority of people in the news will, either intentionally or not, reveal where they stand, and by demanding unbiased news, you prevent them from doing that honestly. You also have the problem of companies and profit. When companies see that a large swath of their readers are of a particular political leaning, they will market and have their writers create for that particular party. This is when you get the company-wide bias that you have with CNN and Fox and MSNBC and so on. You even get this bias when the people you employ don’t have those same feelings about that subject. Take Fox News for example, you have liberal employees, yet conservative television. In Gavin McInnes’ video about his time contributing at Fox, 10 Secrets About Fox News (Now That I’ve Quit), he details how the employees, in general, are liberal saying, “who are we kidding, this building is in New York City these people aren’t conservative.” And they certainly didn’t support the Republican candidate. One last problem with this unachievable bar is accountability. As news outlets expand, more editors are needed, and the once idealistic and strongly in control leaders and bosses, are pushed into more necessary jobs and have less control over their quality.
So what are our options here? Clearly only highly capable, dedicated, and small news outlets can maintain their unbiased reporting, and even then, they probably won’t last very long. You can abandon honesty and integrity altogether (quantity over Quality?) and just go for profit. You can write short and uninteresting articles with little to say, giving your competition a leg up. Or you can state your biases, let them be known and heard, and then let your consumers read, watch, think with a critical mind. This is something newer, more internet based websites have been doing. They let it be known that they are prejudiced to one side or the other and then let their audiences decide if they can handle that.
This is the way of the new generation. People can accept your news with a grain of salt, the market will decide what stays. They’re popping up all over the web, and youtube channels of the same nature have been, and are getting more, popular for years. This has lead to a news renaissance of sorts, with liberals and conservatives stating the facts, and then giving their take. The most popular form of this is probably the website-wide political consensus, that way your readers don’t have to be superfans and keep track of all the writers’ opinions.
It is clear that editorials will no longer be left in the background, that political commentary will take center stage. But take warning, your facts must be straight and you must not be lazy in your research. You must hear both sides, lest you trap yourself in an echo chamber, polarizing yourself from the opposite side.