Is it Still Possible to Have a Balanced News Media?

If it seems as though the media is biased against everything conservative, you may be on to something. While President Trump is busy crying foul on media bias, other organizations are actively speaking out against him.

Journalists bear responsibility to society in general to ensure that all citizens have access to truthful, unbiased and important information in order to allow individuals to form their own opinions about the world around them. However, over the years, mainstream media has shifted to become a miasma of shifting loyalties and biased or slanted reporting. While editorial opinions are always welcome, journalists who wish to present the news as fair and unbiased should maintain the highest ethical standards for balanced and fair reporting.

What will it take to bring balance back to news reporting? Some people believe that it’s now impossible as we’re too away from neutral objectivity.

Opinions versus Fact-Based Reporting

During the election, you may have heard the media referred to as the “Fourth Estate” — a societal power whose influence is not officially recognized. This term has often been utilized to refer to mainstream media, where news anchors have built a professional following through engaging others and growing the trust in their personal voice as well as the collective voice of their media platform.

The Fourth Estate in the U.S. refers to journalism as the fourth, unofficial and most independent branch of the government. While there are many opinionated and unique voices available in the world, Americans have long trusted mainstream media to deliver an unbiased, spin-free and factual retelling of current events. Not any more.

Adding Narrative

Even reporting that is sold to the public as completely free of bias rarely has been. Whether it’s conveniently snipped quotes or utilizing imagery to illustrate a point, bias has always been a part of media sharing.

What’s not new is the widespread and unapologetic use of opinion-based reporting that is the bane of politician’s existence today. However, what many consumers don’t realize is that they’re quietly expecting some sort of bias, but would prefer that the reporting fit within their standards and guidelines for the amount of slant added to the topic. This becomes even more challenging when the direction of the media coverage doesn’t fit within a particular individual’s belief structure or opinions — then we descry “media bias”.

Balance and Objectivity

Bringing balance back to the news is a challenging task, and one that requires individuals to encourage and reward those news outlets who provide objective reporting as opposed to unbiased news. Objective reporting allows for some bias, while still covering both sides of an issue fairly and calling out questionable actions regardless of their origination.

Empowering our journalists to return to a space of responsibility allows voices to be heard on all sides — trusting the reader to make the ultimate decision on the topic from a place of full knowledge and understanding.

Mainstream versus Local Reporting

Many individuals are noticing a remarkable difference between what’s commonly considered mainstream media and local reporting. The “big kids” such as CNN, Fox News and others, are often working hard for viewers and may feel the need to skew their information in a specific direction in order to appeal to their core constituents.

Local networks are more likely to be in touch with the needs of their surrounding areas, and have a greater focus on occurrences that may be positive and uplifting instead of the doom and gloom often found in the national markets.

If you view the media as viewing the world through a lens, it helps to know what type of lens they’re using in order to help minimize the distortion that may occur. News stories that are editorials in disguise are rampant in the world today, and understanding how to filter them helps you find the nuggets of truth amongst the challenging bias.

Perhaps the best way to avoid being pulled in by media bias is to be skeptical of sensationalist reporting until you are able to find independent collaboration on a network or website with competing views. If both liberal and conservative media are reporting the same fact, it’s much more likely to be unvarnished as opposed to being viewed through a specific lens.

While there is no definitive answer to how to bring balance back to the news, consumers do help drive the conversation based on consumption. Utilize your power — the power of the pocketbook with advertisers — to encourage media organizations to report objectively and share facts about stories that they cover, instead of resorting to heavily biased reporting.

~ Facts Not Memes

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