In a time where news is more accessible than ever before, public trust in American mass media is at an all-time low, according to Gallup polls:
You don’t have to delve into the farthest corners of the internet to hear people question the reliability of news sources like CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times. The lack of public trust in the mainstream media is among our society’s biggest problems. According to the Washington Post, a public that does not trust the media can (and has) turn its attention to partisan sources that reaffirm their previously held beliefs. Breitbart, The Blaze, The Huffington Post, and our president’s off-the-cuff 3 a.m. tweets are a few good examples of this.
As people find themselves in these echo-chambers, their partisanship toward specific issues becomes stronger and their likelihood to have a reasonable conversation with the other side diminishes. And so, political discourse between right and left grows ever more venomous. For more on that topic, you should check out Chris Cillizza’s 2014 article on the increasing divide in American politics.
In my opinion, the day where I, a self-proclaimed progressive, cannot have a polite conversation about a political issue with an educated conservative friend is the day democracy truly dies in this country. Hopefully that day never comes, but I do not like our current trajectory.
Between CNN being accused of staging news, Sean Hannity of Fox News pushing conspiracy theories as actual news, and Forbes misrepresenting independent news sources like Philip DeFranco all within the last month, it does not look like mainstream media is going to change any time soon.
So, how do we as citizens help combat the spread of misinformation and ensure that the facts receive attention?
- Do not take any one source as fact, do your own research and fact-checking.
- Be wary of information and stories shared on social media, anyone can write a false article and share it.
- Look past the headline, click-bait titles entrap many into spreading misinformation.
- Support independent journalists and media companies that prioritize presenting facts first and opinions later.
- Challenge your preconceived ideas and beliefs; it is perfectly fine to change your opinion when new information is presented to you.
Here at Into the Cesspool, my mission is to try and make sense of complicated political issues, represent all sides of the story (to the best of my ability), and offer my opinion after all of the facts have been presented.
The political cesspool that is modern news will not be easy to navigate.
Good thing I brought a snorkel.
Sources: Washington Post, Forbes, Gallup, Politifact, The Philip DeFranco Show, The Daily Caller, Media Matters