By Tony Espinal
I believe it is alright to have an opinion and to take sides on issues. I do.
But it’s not alright to continue to allow ourselves to be fooled into believing the myth that the media is out to get us, to keep us misinformed so we can’t make the right decision.
Research is key, and we put faith in the veracity of various sources of information. I think most of us will never make major decisions without sufficient research and trust in our sources. And even then, we will often double- and triple-check the facts before we act.
So I find it very ironic that we continue to have debates about media bias instead of applying our everyday behavior to the
pursuit of information.
It is the belief that news media are willfully misinforming the public for the benefit of specific persons, political parties or stakeholders—and it’s an ever-growing complaint.
During the last presidential election, the Media Research Center penned a letter that said, “This election year, so much of the broadcast networks, their cable counterparts and the major establishment print media are out of control with a deliberate and unmistakable leftist agenda.”
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan in September 2012, told Fox News, “It goes without saying that there is definitely media bias,” Ryan said. “
I think most people in the mainstream media are left of center.”
Today, accusations of bias from political parties and the public seem careless, and I think they effectively undermine the role of journalism, which Journalism.org states is “to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society.”
Recently, Gallup posted the results of a survey that shows only 20 percent of young adults age 18-29 place any trust in television news, and only 30 percent trust newspapers.
We have decided not to trust individuals trained to bring us pertinent, unbiased information.
Gallup attributes part of this mistrust to the rise in social-citizen and user-related media such as personal blogs.
This has led to struggles within the news industry and, therefore, has eroded consumer confidence.
Mediabistro recently reported the ratings rankings for the major cable news networks. These rankings judge how many viewers watch these networks.
FOX News ranked No. 1, followed by MSNBC. Interestingly, those ratings peak at prime-time hours when those networks are anchored by commentators and not journalists.
FOX News spikes between when conservative commentators Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity take the stage. On MSNBC, ratings are highest when Rachel Maddow is on.
We have put our trust in political commentators, social media sites and Twitter users.
If you don’t believe me, check out the comment thread of a news site sometime. I think we trust Facebook postings and personal blogs more than we trust CNN or The New York Times.
Some of the people who work in media today began by writing for their college newspaper. They gave their time to provide information so we could make informed decisions.
We live off information. As students, we need information from our professors to complete assignments.
When we graduate, we will need information to make choices of where to work, where to live, how to buy a home, when and how to invest, and so on.
So when you are questioning the objectivity of news media, do what any good journalist does – ask questions, research and check your facts.