Surge in biased media threatens public knowledge

The media sources we use to observe the news are inevitably going to have some effect on how we interpret the world around us. The news programs we watch, newspapers we read and social media accounts we follow can all impact our opinions on current events.

Americans today get their news from a multitude of sources across an entire spectrum of political views and ideologies. The increase in available news platforms and diversity of opinions in the news may seem beneficial to our society and our politics, but it is actually dividing the nation. We naturally search for others who share our views of the world in order to gain affirmation and validation of those beliefs. In effect, this creates a human echo chamber full of people with similar beliefs, thus confirming our own opinions.

This is a dangerous phenomenon that leads people to become out of touch with reality and each other. Our nation has undoubtedly become more polarized on issues of politics, society and even race relations.

We cannot seem to find common ground on nearly anything—and the United States Congress is stuck in its worst gridlock in generations. It seems that the public and our leaders in government have become entrenched in their own ideological bubbles, seemingly incapable of working with others.

Our national news organizations have fed into this disturbing trend. For example, Fox News is an organization that arguably twists the news for a biased conservative audience. According to the Pew Research Center, 47 percent of self-identified conservatives identify Fox News as their primary news source.

Regardless of one’s opinion on the integrity of Fox, that’s a huge number of people tuning in to a singular channel to get their understanding of current events. This can lead to a mob mentality in which people simply go along with whatever their peers or trusted news personalities believe.

This phenomenon is not limited to just Fox or conservative populations. College campuses today are often overwhelmingly liberal and out of touch with much of our society in many ways. Liberal populations also need to recognize the biases they have and make honest attempts to understand people with whom they disagree.

In a fierce, seemingly never-ending election season, America’s divisions have never felt so intense and distinctly present. Our disagreements on politics and societal issues have become filled with vitriol and a lack of empathy for others’ opinions.

These are natural trends that form over time, but our politicians and news media have been incredibly irresponsible in their encouragement of this divide. These societal rifts produce strong emotional responses from people—perfect for click-bait headlines looking to rile up supporters.

In an age of a polarized media landscape, we can’t fall for these deceitful tactics. It’s crucial for our country that we all get out of our personal echo chambers and make an honest effort to understand each other’s point of view.