How ya’ going? Continuing off from my last post. Let us assume objectivity is rare these days on a multitude of levels. We can then critically analyse the bias we do see in many platforms today.
As mentioned, I believe ‘objective reporting‘ of political news is of utmost importance towards maintaining the processes of a functional democracy. As you all well know, the invention of the printing press in 1456 marked the singular beginning of mass information dispersion. Though, it wasn’t until the early 20th century in which digitalized forms of media further transformed the way in which we consume news reporting today.
With digitalization, came the age of network television and internet news sites, two key platforms that have opened the public sphere of information to unprecedented scale. Such platforms have given rise to polarization and political bias of news reporting at concerning levels.
Bias can be achieved through lexical methods; such as divisive words and emotive writing methods. Or it can be achieved through the omission of particular facts surrounding an event. Or how about speculative secondary information in order to elicit emotional responses in the consumer? It ain’t nothing new.
Before I go into that, I must first note the methods in which we, as democratic citizens, consumed and disseminated media historically. Our current media environment has evolved largely from what is called the public sphere. It is the environment in which folks can address matters of concern openly in discussion, without censorship or repercussion. This has been around since the mid-17th century. Think ol’ pubs of unionists, or smokey coffee shops where the Commies gather. Or simply just ‘ordinary people‘ talking freely about current state of affairs.
Anyway, the the public sphere is an essential foundation towards a democratic state as it establishes discourse among the public and away from private, religious or political settings. It took generations of news proprietors in attempting to decouple from the foundations of religious or monarchical media influence to establish the independent free press. Or the ‘fourth estate’ as I mentioned yesterday. (Nobility. Church. Common People. Press/Media.)
Our modern public sphere has advanced from the mediums of the past, towards a more intertwined array of spheres that defy space-time constraints due to the rise of technological advances. However, you guessed it - such political bias still exists among our press and media institutions.
The term mediatization is commonly used to describe our modern media environment. It is the process of directly influencing the overall political discourse and direction of communication among a society. Political bias within our massive digital playground is vast. Plus, it obviously spans from each extreme of political ideologies.
For example, a media watchdog organisation compiled many of the popular media providers throughout America in a chart known as the Media Bias Chart (Heldebrandt, 2019). This chart compiles lists of articles from various political news sources. It then comprises each source by reliability and political ideology on a spectrum from far-left to far-right. The watchdog group found varying degrees of political bias and reliability in their compilation depending on the news source. News sources such as MSNBC and CNN skewed towards a more unreliable left-wing bias in their articles. Whilst Fox News and The Daily Mail skewed towards a more unreliable right-wing bias.
News sources such as The New York Times, NBC, and The Guardian were shown to be highly reliable in factual reporting whilst remaining neutrally objective from a political standpoint. But even that claim brings with it a certain level of subjectivity. Take it with a grain of salt, and attempt to always think critically yourself. Is this common knowledge? Am I rambling? You tell me.
I wanna’ also quickly mention the term political spin. It describes the complex insider-relationship between PR members of political parties and news journalists. Former journalists (spin-doctors) are often hired by political parties and their PR department due to their ability to spin or positively manage political topics and speeches. Mind you, this use of ‘engineered influence‘ on the public has shown to be a widely accepted under modern media standards.
But isn’t that just politics, mate? True, I mean you could argue that to not witness the use of spin or bias in media is to not witness the very spectacle of politics! Aristotle’s position on rhetoric pandering among society has not really changed throughout the centuries. He claimed that no human can objectively approach a topic with accurate unbiased observation.
Therefore - could the use of spin and bias in news reporting just be an inevitable part of politics and human nature? Perhaps the concern does not lie within news itself, but current the citizens lack of reasononing to seek out objective truths through research and fact-checking. Easier said than done - especially in our ‘tech-giant‘ era!
Evgeny Morozov argued profit-driven social media giants is of far more concern than that of news bias. He states that the underlying problem is not in strongly biased articles one receives when accessing media. It is the high turn-over rate such news is disseminated by the public in order for digital elites such as Google and Facebook to turn profits. High click rates combined with profit-orientated algorithms churning out consistent production and circulation of news. Just a thought, I don’t have a solution to ol’ Morozov. cough Twetch? cough
Further ‘real-life social experiments’ (join Twetch) need to be done to find solutions in addressing the concern of an endangered media environment we face today…
Heldebrandt, B. (2019, December 3). How a popular media bias chart determines what news can be trusted. Gateway Journalism Review.
Morozov, E. (2017, January 8). Moral panic over fake news hides real enemy the digital giants. The Guardian.
Anyway, I’m stressing over some work stuff!
Here’s a tune. Enjoy your day!