Everybody is selling something. If you take nothing else away from this post, try your best to remember that. Everybody is selling something. Everybody has an angle. Everybody has motives behind everything they do. People do not act in opposition to their own self-interests. They do what they think is best for themselves, and usually, themselves alone. This is an immutable law of basic human shitcockery.
Your news sources are not immune to this law. In America, this is doubly true, because news organizations are literally selling something. They are selling themselves. In certain closed societies, the available news outlets may be a wholly regulated tool of the government, allowed to produce and distribute only carefully censored and approved information or propaganda. It doesn’t take a tremendous leap of imagination to understand that the news reports available in a place like, say, North Korea are going to be biased. It’s literally not allowed to be anything but. In America however, ostensibly the home of the free, the fact that the news you regularly consume is oftentimes equally as biased is a harder pill to swallow, when really, the only difference between the two is that, instead of a repressive government controlling the media to assert and maintain its domination over an ill-informed populace, American media spins its stories for the sake of money alone.
That’s the downfall of the free press. While they may be free to publish whatever they want, their incentive for doing so is to make money. In order to make money, they need to secure and build an audience, all while competing with rival news organizations. In order to secure and build their audiences, these news organizations need to identify the desires of their target demographics, and then report the news in a way that is palatable to that audience. At the end of the day, Conservative news outlets will put a conservative spin on their pieces, and liberal news outlets will put a liberal spin on theirs.
Let’s be real. According to left-leaning networks like CNN, Trump is about to be impeached, the government is crumbling, and we’re one dead black kid away from all out race war. If you follow the more conservative networks like Fox News however, you’ll read that the economy is doing great, domestic businesses are super optimistic, and everyone on the left is a whiny entitled libtard idiot gay fag who wears ladies underwear. So, which one is it? Are things looking up? Or down? Is Trump doing well? Or horribly? Are we closer to global nuclear annihilation? Or further? As with most things, the truth is probably closer to somewhere in the middle than either the right or the left care to admit.
Now, that’s fine if you have the media literacy to be aware of what’s happening, and realize that the information being brought to you has been washed and filtered to better fit with a preexisting mindset, and if you’re willing to put the effort into reviewing alternative sources to see how people with different biases can jump to wholly different conclusions from the same basic information.
If you don’t have that basic understanding of how the world works, and don’t recognize that everyone who tells you anything has an agenda however, you could very quickly find yourself surprised when reality doesn’t adhere to your truncated worldview. If, for example, you want to keep up to date with any news relating to the color purple, and you only get your purple-related news from http://www.purplesuckssomuch.com, the news you hear is obviously going to be very different than the news available about purple over on http://www.purpleisthebest.net. In a perfect world, all the purple-centric news would be available from a completely unbiased, factual, data-driven news site like http://www.judgmentfreeinformationaboutpurple.org, but unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, we live in a world where people are easily bored, and want to be entertained by their news and also want their news to confirm their already existing preconceptions about stuff and things.
The annoying part of all this is that we had a news organization like that, and we wasted it. Al-Jazeera America was the news network we needed, and we let it slip through our fingers, mostly because it just reported the facts in a dry, uninteresting manner, but also to an embarrassing degree because it had an Arabic name, and for a damnably large percentage of the American population, anything Arabic=Muslim=ISIS=Osama Bin Laden=Scary.
So what should you do? Well first off, if you get your news from a website, or TV network, or print publication that is known to be either liberal or conservative, stop. Don’t do it. You’re doing yourself a disservice by only getting half the story. If you’re being entertained by your news provider, that’s a bad sign. News shouldn’t be entertaining. It should just be. This is what happened. This is what happened. This is what happened. Now you are informed. Please form your own opinions, we will not do it for you. Good day.
I suggest that you obtain your news from a non-American based source. Something like BBC news, which, although still probably biased, is a globally respected news organization that is leaps and bounds less biased than American news networks, AND has the added benefit of not being beholden to the American people, so it can report on American issues in a more fact driven, less reactionary, less politically charged manner. After foreign news sources, I would go with not-for-profit news outlets, like NPR or PBS. Although a haven for left-leaning intellectual mouth breathers, NPR and PBS do a pretty good job of facilitating true discussion and reporting facts as opposed to speculation or opinions. Beyond that, if you simply must continue using domestic, for-profit news organizations, stick to the boring, less inflammatory ones like the Wall Street Journal. Don’t get distracted by the pretty lights and slick packaging available from less reputable news sources.
I believe in you America. I believe we can indeed be the greatest nation in the world, but in order to do so, we need to be savvy, media-literate, and well-informed. Don’t drink the Kool-aid. Don’t let the news tell you what to think. Get the facts, and decide for yourself.
So how about it? Where do you get your news?