Media Bias -Is it Intentional?
Bias in America
Over the course of the past decade the term “media bias” has grown into a household phrase. The left complains about Breitbart and Fox News, the right complains about everyone, but is there justification to their complaints? Is the news media in America attempting to write their own narrative of history as it unfolds and intentionally sway the minds and hearts of their readers and viewers? The simple answer is yes… And no. Media bias is real, but are major media outlets trying to sell their bias as honest news?
Many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum and spread throughout the middle feel disenfranchised by the media in this country. They feel like they have been lied to and can no longer trust the media to tell the truth about what’s really going on in this country and for good reason.
The limelight really fell on media bias in 2016 in November when Hillary Clinton, reportedly the heavy favorite to win the presidency, failed to secure the vote. You can argue popular vote and electoral college all you want, the end result is the same – Donald Trump became president. Even as most media outlets predicted a landslide win for the Democratic nominee America watched as the numbers just did not flesh out the way we were told they would. The media had sold America a false bill of goods.
Trump supporters felt vindicated as the lies of the “left leaning” media were exposed in front of 330 million citizens all at once. Clinton supporters felt used and lied to by media outlets they had come to trust. Those who had once believed most of what they saw on the evening news now questioned the validity of every story they heard or read. If the major news outlets with more data available to them than ever before due to today’s internet and the most cutting edge polling and analysis got this big of a story wrong what else could they be lying about?
How did they miss this story?
In order to understand how the media could possible not see the truth right in front of their eyes you need to understand the state of the industry today and how different it is from the state of the industry 20 years ago. The major cable news networks were all available 20 years ago, but it seems like they were more truthful then. So what happened?
20 years ago the internet was still relatively young at least as far as public consumption is concerned. People by and large in America still got the majority of their news from print near the turn of the century. Daily papers make their money from ads, these ads are usually bought by local companies trying to reach their local audience which makes them non-tradable goods. They are meant for consumption in their local market.
There were still major national papers like the New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, but the majority of readers bought their local paper, which was probably written and printed within 30 miles of where they lived. The voice of the local people was heard and influenced the news because of it. The growth of the internet media, however, changed all that.
In the early 90’s according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics newspaper publishers employed about 455,000 people. That number has been cut down to just over 170,000 as of January 2017. Local print papers have cut sections, departments and some have closed their doors entirely. With those numbers the voice of middle America has dwindled over the years. Meanwhile internet news sources have been booming and in late 2015 employment in these media sources surpassed that of print media for the first time ever.
The changes in the ways people consume their news is what, in the end, paved the way for the media bias we are now experiencing. This fading presence of Middle America in the news is what caused the media to predict Clinton’s win in 2016.
How did a shrinking print media cause the bias?
This is a little more complicated. It boils down to infrastructure and business economy. Simply put businesses from similar industries tend to clump together. If you are about to launch a new tech startup you want to be in places that have the infrastructure to support it. You’ll need attorneys familiar with intellectual property law, you’ll need investors, you’ll need an area with a concentration of qualified workers, and you’ll need vendors and outlets that sell the hardware and software you’ll need. So you move to Silicon Valley or Seattle, or possibly a smaller metropolitan area offering a budding tech community. You don’t move to a small town in Middle America.
The problem comes from these areas also being deep within the blue political borders. The people who are reporting the news are talking to others of like-minded beliefs, and they do not represent a fair sampling of the whole of this country. Because of this most media reporters are speaking with other media reporters who are speaking with liberals, hearing stories from other liberals. Its a big circle of people saying the same things.
The old print media with its local base prevented this type of clustering because it had to be in the area where its readers were. It shared, by and large, the beliefs of the people in the area it represented. So if a story broke in Paris, TN reporters from New York would have to speak with people from a different demographic in order to print that story. They might add a slant or spin to the story to represent their personal bias, but the meat would still be the same. Print media by it’s nature helped keep the news honest by forcing diverse and opposing views to be printed.
So what really happened in 2016?
The media bubble burst in a very public way. For the past few years the media have largely been functioning inside a bubble that consists of other like-minded people. The perceived media bias was born of this more than a willful attempt to defraud Americans. When Trump won in 2016 it blew the bubble apart in front of millions of Americans causing them to doubt what they see on the news and to attempt to fact-check everything to some degree.
Of course, there are some people who will remain sheep, munching away on anything they’re told is green grass, but a large portion of America changed that night. It became obvious that there has been a divide in America between the urban and rural areas and the differences in the beliefs of the two. It also became painfully obvious that the news media in this country will have to change in a big way before they can be trusted again.
Since that night the major players in the media have been floundering for ratings and attention. So we have seen a sharp uptick in divisive reporting – coverage of things like racism and political beliefs, protests and riots. There have been more of these things going on in America to be sure, but the extent of the coverage is what has changed. It’s all resulted in an American people who do not like or trust major news outlets anymore.
Can it be fixed?
It will take a great deal of time and effort for many Americans to trust corporate media outlets again and currently they are not doing a good jobs of earning that trust. But, yes, it can be fixed. As Middle America strives to catch up technologically to it’s coastal counterparts we see small tech communities beginning to pop up in places like Chattanooga, TN, Kansas City and St Louis, Mo. With these communities’ growing technical presence comes a growing presence in online news media from bloggers and small start-ups.
Over the course of several years we may see Middle America’s voice coming back because of these small communities helping to keep the coastal news bubbles honest. This along with the glaring light the election cast on a major news blunder may help the media course correct in the coming years.
My personal opinion, though, is to verify and confirm everything before believing it. I would also say that you need to understand that some media outlets will always slant the news to their personal bias no matter the current climate in America (Hello CNN and MSNBC! You’re basically worthless propaganda! Congratulations!). These you should probably just avoid because the fact is even if you duct tape your entire head together it won’t stop it from exploding. It just keeps the pieces all in one place for the doctors.
Want to know when our latest posts go up and access to exclusive content found nowhere else? Join us on Minds.Com!
Be sure to check out the rest of DadDoneLostIt.com for more great information, guides and laughs! Also check out Dad’s Gonna Lose It! for more of my misadventures in parenting!
And follow us on our social media! Instagram: Dad_Done_Lost_It, Minds.com @DadDoneLostIt, Twitter @DadDoneLostIt, Facebook DadDoneLostIt