In an era where there is a breaking news story every hour, it is easy to be confused or suspicious of what is being reported – especially in country obsessed with “Fake News.”
But for ethical journalists, each article represents hours spent checking and rechecking their claims before the story hits the front page.
Journalism is a field based in ethics and codes of conduct. Every news organization has a set of rules regarding what is an acceptable source. Typically, information is unsuitable to report unless it has been confirmed by two trustworthy sources.
There are reporters who dedicate their lives to presenting news in an impartial manner. But even given an honest pursuit, achieving complete objectivity can be nearly impossible.
Once you accept that any brain trying to organize information will apply some sort of bias – no matter how harmless – it becomes easier to spot it.
Give five people the same news story to write, and you’ll find five different ways of organizing perfectly credible information. Each person filters and prioritizes information in a slightly different manner.
While ethical journalists do their best to report only the facts, bias can slip into the arrangement of those facts. You may have noticed that even this publication – which prides itself on practicing ethical journalism – has a liberal leaning.
That’s why it is vital to vary your news sources.
It can sound exhausting to spend your time jumping from news source to news source, inundating yourself with political, social, and economic horrors.
Choose two sources that you can regularly look to for credible and timely news and one that’s radically different. Throughout the week, check headlines, skim articles, read those that interest you and maybe take a glance at a few opinion pieces. In this way, you’ll see two politically similar takes on an issue and one that is opposite. Now you have a sense of what all sides are saying.
You’re better prepared to decide for yourself what stance you take on an issue.
(If you don’t want to scale the paywall, with just the click of a button, you can access The New York Times with a free subscription through our library’s database.)
And don’t let the national or world news overwhelm you. Every national and global news story is someone’s local news. Pay attention to what is happening in your community. Not only will it help make the news feel less foreign, but it will make you better prepared for your daily life.
Our example? Your college newspaper.
Every week, the student government association holds its weekly meeting to discuss relevant issues on campus and decide where a portion of your student fees are allocated. And every week, the reporters at The Gatepost diligently attend these meetings and publicize that information. This is one of the many ways for you to keep track of what matters on this campus – by reading the news.
Don’t forget that the news thrives when fresh voices are broadcasted. It does not operate independent of you.
Have you seen coverage in this paper – or any paper – that you don’t agree with? Or maybe there’s something you find important that isn’t being reported on? Submit an opinion piece. Write a letter to the editor. Better yet, join our news staff. Change the way the news is reported.
Take advantage of the information around you instead of letting it take advantage of you.