Journalists and news sources are meant to have an obligation to the truth. Because of this, news organizations try to be unbiased, fair, and ethical. In America, one of our founding principles is freedom of speech and press.
So how did our news become so slanted?
We have devolved back to the days of yellow journalism and sensationalist reporting. The most respected newspapers and organizations are no longer unbiased, and it’s hard to think that they even strive to be.
First, we should not have “liberal” or “conservative” news. No matter where a person reads about an event they should get the same basic facts and have the same understanding of the event. Yet since publications are motivated by money and popularity, they feel the need to make their article unique and insert bias into stories. The line between news and opinion is slowly but surely blurring.
We can see this through a few things. First, the most prominent example is the coverage of the last election. In many ways, I think that the media is to blame for the horrible nature of the election. It starts with candidate coverage.
The media has unprecedented power. Psychology shows that just showing someone an image or idea repeatedly will subconsciously cause them to think about it. News media showed Trump a disproportionate amount, with Clinton as a close second. In primary season, news and print media basically ensured that Clinton and Trump would get nominated.
More moderate candidates like Bush or Kasich were hardly given a minute of airtime, and with all the “buzz” on Trump, he was all people could think about. Sanders also was never represented appropriately, which led to frustration from many voters. Third party candidates got virtually no respectable coverage.
News sources chose what to tell American citizens, they were never given the full picture. This continued into the presidential race, when Trump had breaking news articles every day, and every opinion article was about Donald Trump. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he won. His rhetoric was vastly available to voters and gave them a chance to listen and be persuaded.
Journalists caused much of the strife of this election. They ensured the divide. They would cover Clinton’s emails in vastly different ways, leading voters to have black and white views on the topic. Trump’s coverage ranged vastly as well. Journalists couldn’t find it in themselves to be unbiased and stay true to their values. They got involved, ultimately to the detriment of the American people.
If simply slanting articles wasn’t enough, journalists took it a step further with their endorsements and polling data. Endorsements go against the very nature of an unbiased publication. When the editorial staff endorses a candidate, the entire news portion of their publication loses credibility and their ability to appear impartial. People had no reliable source for news, and therefore were more likely to believe lies the candidates said and question everything about the election (even when there was no corruption). Fact-checking no longer matters, and journalism is responsible.
The polling practices were equally detrimental. Predicting an 85 or 90 percent chance of Clinton winning, and having Trump win the election is inexcusable. Polls were partly responsible for voter apathy and also lit flames to the talk of corruption and non-ethical voting practices. What people were news outlets surveying for the results to be such a surprise? If the poll isn’t reliable it shouldn’t be published
The current state of journalism makes me feel disheartened. There must be reform in current practices and ethics. I hope that soon there will be a shift in “normal” practices. “Normal” should be truthful, unbiased, topical articles that inform citizens. It should not be click-bait headlines, flashy, unimportant stories, and biased media.