Where to Draw the Line Between News and Opinion
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 14:10
In today’s journalism field, it is incredibly hard to get a straight answer. Almost every single news source is biased in some way, which makes it very hard to discern facts from overzealous opinion. Whether it’s a newspaper, television network or even an online blog, it’s hard to get accurate information. I always check at least three different news sources to make sure I know what is going on, and each one of these sources puts a different slant on the story.
Due to individuals sometimes only watching or reading one source of news, Fox for example, they get a slanted piece of information. It is accurate yes, but it is completely non-objective. For those of you that are not journalism majors, objectivity is what makes our worlds go round. Well, it should anyways. Objectivity is, in essence, not putting your opinion in a story in any way, shape or form. Strictly facts.
Now, as a new journalist myself, I realize how hard it is to be objective all the time. It is very, very difficult. That is no excuse to put one’s own opinion in a story. The opinion section is for your opinion, and nowhere else. I refuse to watch Fox News just because everything is so incredibly republican slanted. They want everyone else to agree with its “side” and seemingly think that the public cannot make their own decisions. That is what news is for. To inform people and let them make their own decisions about it. Not to convince people one way or the other.
How can you make an informed decision or have an enlightened conversation about something in the news if your one source of news is biased? You can’t! It causes so many problems. Everyone these days seems to be on a certain “side” of a topic, but no one is ever neutral. As a journalist, I take pride in being neutral. I don’t vote based on party; I vote based on a candidate’s beliefs. Which, of course, I have carefully researched on about a hundred different websites. No, seriously.
By having more objective and unbiased news sources, I believe it will solve a great many problems. People will be allowed to make their own decisions rather than spew what has been propagated into them. You all know who I’m talking about. We all have that one friend or relative who always has to start an argument just because they can. It is usually about politics or religion, and then they start spewing incorrect facts like their life depends on it. Where did these incorrect facts come from? Probably from a friend who posted on Facebook about her mom’s coworker who told her about a story on—insert news channel here—that Obama wasn’t born in America, so he really cannot be president.
We’ve all seen it. Or more likely, heard about it for over an hour. Yes, after hearing that story you probably would have fact checked, but if you looked at the same news article or report that the mom’s coworker did, you would probably end up with close to the same biased information.
No matter who you heard it from, it’s still biased information. How many unwanted conversations could be avoided if that mom’s coworker had seen an unbiased and objective news report? I can’t even picture how drastic a change we would see in the country as a whole if all news was suddenly unbiased and completely objective.
Who wins an election might actually be who is best for the country, because people will be accurately informed. When a news source portrays it as one side or the other’s fault, it makes it even worse. People start arguing about who is right and who is wrong rather than compromising and fixing a situation. Believe it or not, compromise is actually possible. Looking at you, congress.
To end this thoroughly depressing opinion article, (take note: That’s actually what it is, just my opinion, in the correct section where I can talk about my opinions all I want), I call on all of you to start looking for non-objective news. I would start with Reuters and the Associated Press. In my opinion, those are the two most unbiased and objective news sources available. Associated Press tends to be slightly liberal, but only slightly. Reuters is incredibly neutral. Reuters is the first place I look for my news, online at least. In print, I look to the New York Times or Washington Post. See? There really are good news sources out there.
My hope is that by educating people on news bias and non-objectivity, we will create more peace in the United States and hopefully, in turn, the rest of the world. Huge goal I know, but I really hope that someday it will happen. Then I will not have to listen to any more awful arguments.
Rhianna is a freshman majoring in journalism.