• Emily Amador

Redefining news objectivity in the present age

Historically, journalists served the purpose of reflecting events for the sake of accounting for an event and communicating to the general public. The Acta Diurna, the earliest journalistic product (pre 59 BCE), released issues every day covering events like speeches. Journalism, and news distribution for that matter, has transformed from those early roots, and today faces a crisis: we do not trust the media.

In the internet age, journalism and news have just become a competition for clicks (i.e., advertising dollars) and a rush to publish. All sides are constricting and polarizing politics, not always maintaining the integrity and being welcoming of difference. This is becoming applicable to most of the journalism and news we read, it goes beyond CNN and Fox News.

Even live coverage can skew perspective; dependent on camera angle or choice of language, networks and writers can alter the significance of events to suit ideological agendas, or choose not to cover certain events or aspects of events.

How camera angles can be subjective

From one-sided history textbooks to news reports riddled with dishonesty, we cannot seem to dodge subjectivity.

There really is no way to escape it. Even if one opts to view full-length live events, camera angles, commentary, and other components can skew political opinions. How we ultimately interpret information is also biased.

This being said it is important to analyze and consider the following:

  • Language — words used to report on news and recognize whether the information is delivered as an opinion or fact. Words including “likely” and “probably” elicit doubt and often precede opinions.

  • Do not form your opinion on topics or events that have not completely unfolded; today’s news sources publish immediately, often without carefully checking sources or verifying claims.

  • Check stories for accuracy by comparing accounts from varied sources — and actively seek a variety of sources, rather than accept whatever your social media algorithm chooses to show you.

  • Review multiple sources and perspectives (read and watch different sources with different political tendencies).

  • Use this source to analyze different media biases which can also apply to journalism.

A large part of misinformation is the desire for quick information. News outlets have identified this and exploit it. Many people do not completely read articles; a false or exaggerated title, if striking enough, itself can be lead to dramatic misunderstanding.

We have been blindly humoring a key component utilized by news outlets to keep us in a bubble, the algorithm. Algorithms essentially create echo chambers where we are only fed information that validates our own political opinion. It validates and constricts our political opinions in a bubble and, as news outlets have recognized, makes it challenging to have conversations with people and groups with different political opinions. While we are entitled to our opinion it is also very important to be exposed to a difference in opinion. Whether it be left, right and in between, outlets often use their titles and content to incite outrage — the items most often forwarded, reposted, and retweeted fall into the category of “shared outrage.”

Authors do not necessarily have to be experts to publish a report. This is great in several respects; it gives people platforms and opportunities to voice their political opinions which otherwise would be challenging to communicate widely and efficiently. However, this also means that we need to be more cognizant of disinformation or circular reporting (when multiple news outlets reporting the same false information either accrediting another media source or the re-reporting of the same false information which then appears credible).

Remain skeptical; keep your eyes open; beware of the social-media algorithms that manipulate our opinions.


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