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Consumers Face Difficulty Being Informed In Era Of ‘Fake News’

+Rupert+Murdoch%2C+founder+of+Fox+News.+Murdoch+also+owns+several+small+newspapers.++Photo+via+Wikimedia+Commons
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Consumers Face Difficulty Being Informed In Era Of ‘Fake News’

 Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox News. Murdoch also owns several small newspapers.  Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox News. Murdoch also owns several small newspapers. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox News. Murdoch also owns several small newspapers. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox News. Murdoch also owns several small newspapers. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Lauren Cincotta, News Editor

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When news happens, people learn about it a lot faster than they used to. It used to be that when a story broke, people read about it in the newspaper. Later, they heard about it nightly from the radio or television. By that time, in most cases, the story was often several hours old. With modern technology, journalists are able to report on stories as they break.  Internet and cell phones allow them to publish stories for people to read as they happen. However, speed and increased accessibility bring challenges. One of the challenges of being informed in today’s world is finding accurate, unbiased news.

So how can people find accurate news without bias and inaccuracies in a time of extreme political divisions and “fake news”? The key is to look for reliable sources. Credible news organizations often have more editors and supervisors looking over material before it is published to ensure maximum accuracy. This allows readers to receive the bare information, without embellishments or opinions to influence their own. Many news outlets have researchers to do this “fact-checking” for their journalists.  Readers also can do their own fact-checking. A good way to fact-check is to read information from multiple sources. WSHS science teacher, Mr. Scott, suggested that those who wished to be well informed to do more research and not assume that reporting tells the whole story. Mr. Scott added, “DO NOT assume that a five minute story or a one minute sound bite makes you knowledgeable in any way. At best, it may result in the consumer being a little more aware.”

Knowing the outlet behind what is being put out helps too. Acknowledging that many news sites might cater to a certain viewpoint or ideology will help readers to see the information differently. The best news organizations are unbiased, meaning that they do not lean toward any viewpoint, political or otherwise. They give the basic facts and let their consumers form their own opinions. Local broadcasters(stations that just cover local news and do not reach a national audience) are reliable sources for news that affects the lives of the people living in an area. These broadcasts often do not delve into many national issues, save a few  prominent topics that made headlines in state and national news during the day.

Network news (NBC, ABC, etc) cover news on a national scale. Cable news like MSNBC, CNN and Fox news are on continuously all day. These channels offer updates on news as it breaks. However, most of what they offer is analysis. Individuals and panels go through the days developments and offer their own opinions. These cable news channels are usually trusted by one group of people and viewed as unfair as others. The line between facts and opinions from these sources can easily be blurred for many viewers.

Getting news from the internet or social media may be a convenient way to quickly hear about important events but it also poses a risk of inaccuracy. False information can be spread rapidly because anyone can write “news” without being fact-checked. Checking a variety of sources can ensure that information is accurate. Knowing who controls what news is published or broadcasted can be tricky, but the more a reader understands, the more informed they will be. 24-Hour news networks CNN and Fox News were founded by Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch respectively. These men have made a lot of money controlling what Americans see, hear and think about the news.

Murdoch is the founder of News Corp and 21st Century Fox which consisted of several newspapers and magazines but mostly notably Fox News. These varying small newspapers and the broadcast network were known for their conservative slant. CNN founder Ted Turner created a media empire that consisted of several non-news television channels. CNN is considered by many to have a liberal slant. There are only a few corporations that control many newspapers and magazines. Media monopolies have increased with only six companies controlling the news in America. The people in powerful positions in these companies control what Americans see and hear on the news.

What is considered news also is open to individual interpretation. The importance of celebrity or entertainment news varies for the individual. Also, not all people want to concern themselves with political news. Those that do concern themselves may only look for one opinion over another.“Many people will access media simply to backup or confirm their own beliefs, not to learn varying opinions or the whole story,” said history teacher Mr. Gillane.

The United States was created with a free press in mind. The First Amendment to the Constitution gave reporters the freedom to be independent from the government and print information for the people. Whether the free press has endured and will for future generations is a subject of intense debate. “For profit news, especially 24-hour cable news, is not at all what the Founding Father imagined when the wrote the Bill of Rights,”said Mr. Scott. Mr. Gillane agreed that though times have definitely changed, the free press in the United States has been preserved better than most. “Many court decisions have come down that have protected the press and our First Amendment rights.” There have been many Supreme Court cases that have debated the rights of journalists, and have resulted in several important descisions that have protected the rights of reporters nationwide.

 However, despite these decisions bias still exists in our news. History teacher Paul Taylor noted, “if you go back far enough, you’ll see that biased reporting is not new. In the early 19th Century, there were “Federalist” newspapers as well as”Democratic-Republican” newspapers.” In today’s political climate Taylor added, “I think that biased reporting, as well as the slander that the current President has visited upon honest news people, has taken its toll.” The truth is that biased reporting and the preservation of a free press will continue to be controversial in our society. News is critical to the function of our government. By knowing where news comes from, who is behind it, and checking out various sources people can become better informed.

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Consumers Face Difficulty Being Informed In Era Of ‘Fake News’