Wednesday, August 10, 2016

'Lame Stream Media' Less Biased Than Its Users

Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again:
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among its worshippers.
- William Cullen Bryant

I've been around a long time, and I've never heard so much whining about media bias. Not surprisingly, people at both ends of the political spectrum keep complaining that their candidates and their causes aren't being given fair coverage.

I get that, and human nature being what it is, we can pretty much take for granted there is enough bending of the truth to go around. Let's just assume that no reporters, editors or news organizations are ever totally free of bias.

But are there really just two kinds of news publishers, liberal and conservative? And do even likeminded media outlets regularly conspire together to present a common slant to their stories and interviews? Or in a society blessed with a free (though flawed) press, is it more reasonable to believe that news outlets, on a given day, will represent a whole range of perspectives, from one end of a continuum to another? 

I agree that large corporations have gained control of too many once locally owned and operated broadcast stations and newspapers. But that doesn't mean there aren't many professional journalists still employed by them, people who are careful to check their sources and get somewhere close to getting it right most of the time.

Even the most biased of outlets will, in their own best interests, want to avoid being too reckless with facts, especially when they have plenty of rivals all too willing to take them to task when they get it wrong. At some level they must still appeal to as many media consumers as possible, even if their motivation is to sell as much advertising as they can.

Bottom line, they know there is risk involved in spreading outright untruths. There are still plenty of competitors in the business who know that uncovering media lies and cover-ups can produce great headlines and gain tons of viewers and readers, to say nothing of the possibility of a Pulitzer prize for journalism. 

Yes, there are lots of biased reporters, editors and pundits around. We need to just get used to that, learn to draw from various news sources, and to take everything we hear or see with at least a grain of salt.

But let's not waste time blaming media bias for all the ignorance being circulated everywhere. For if truth be told, our media may be no more, or less, biased than we are.

Here's a link to six fact checking websites.

And here's one that rates three major network news outlets.
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