What happens when a country’s news media establishment abandons the principles of journalism and churns out news reports that are increasingly subjective? And what impact does this have on a society that depends largely on the media for information?
Media bias has long been a source of contention between the left and the right. Many conservatives loudly rebuke the Fourth Estate for its alleged left-leaning approach to journalism. Leftists deny that certain news outlets skew their stories to favor a left-wing narrative, positing that Fox News, the only mainstream conservative television news channel, somehow favors opinion over straight news reporting.
So who’s right? According to a recent study, both sides are.
American Press Has Lost Objectivity
The RAND Corporation recently released a study showing that press reporting has changed over the past 30 years. RAND senior political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh told Marketwatch, “Notably, these measurable changes vary in extent and nature for different news platforms.”
Kavanagh also stated that American press reporting has “become more subjective and consists less of the detailed event or context-based reporting that used to characterize news coverage.”
Researchers used a RAND text-analytics tool to scan millions of lines in reports across a variety of media, including broadcast, print, and online. They focused on several different news outlets, including:
- The New York Times
- The Washington Post
- Louis Post-Dispatch
- Fox News
- The Blaze
- Breitbart News
- Buzzfeed Politics
- Daily Caller
- Huffington Post
The results of the study were about as shocking as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) admitting she’s not a Native American.
From Reporting to Persuasion
According to the study, news outlets used “relatively complex academic and precise language” before 2000. But after 2000, news organizations fixated more on “on-air personalities and talking heads debating the news.”
Put simply, talking heads shouting at each other might seem like business as usual, but it’s a relatively new phenomenon. This paradigm seems to have had a pernicious impact on American society and the public’s trust in the Fourth Estate. The study reveals that 63% of participants believe there are no more “objective news sources.” Moreover, 50% think “political and social issues” have worsened over the past year.
Here’s the reality: News media outlets on both sides have abandoned the original principles of journalism. They have chosen influence over information, and the result is a more divided society. Objective reporting has given way to mindless clickbait, outrage porn, and divisive content, all under the auspices of straight news reporting.
So what should Americans do? Unfortunately, they must work harder to get the full story on a newsworthy incident. It’s best to look at as many sources as possible, factoring in that each outlet has an agenda. Either way, research shows clearly that the press is no longer concerned about unbiased reporting. Americans must adjust their approach to consuming news if they wish to be fully informed.
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