Art by Hee Joo Roh
Are you consuming news in a healthy way?
With the thousands of different news outlets for viewers to choose from, it is important to be sure you are getting your news in a balanced way.
Journalistic balance is when a story’s content offers a wide range of voices and perspectives so a viewer can decide on their own how they feel about a topic, according to the Online News Association.
Viewers can encounter a balance in their media consumption when they take it upon themselves to get their news from various sources with diverse perspectives.
All journalists should be presenting information to viewers in an unbiased way, but this is not always the case. A journal article titled,”Understanding news outlets’ audience-targeting patterns,” says mass media often caters to certain biases in an attempt to expand their audience and change people’s opinions. Because of this, it is important to be aware of the biases opinions behind what you’re reading or watching.
You can make sure you are consuming news with a balanced approach in two ways. The first is something journalists can do, and the second is something you can do.
What Journalists Can Do
Journalists are advised to follow the SPJ Code of Ethics, which says to “seek truth and report it.”
As a student journalist, I believe the news media exists to simply gather information, fact check it and report it. This leaves room for the reader to decide how they feel on the subject.
Truthful reporting is balanced reporting. Journalists as a whole could do a better job at making sure their reporting shows all angles of a story so readers have all the information needed to form an educated opinion.
Whether it is news, culture or opinion writing, journalists should give all perspectives of a story to provide readers with a balanced version.
What Audiences Can Do
In a perfect world, all media would produce balanced news — but this is not always the case. If one news outlet does not give you all sides of the story, then go to a different one. Consuming your news from various outlets will allow for you to hear diverse opinions on a topic and provide you with a wider variety of facts and sources.
There are a few main media outlets that are known to lean toward one viewpoint more than another. For example, Fox News is primarily known to target a politically right audience while CNN aims for the left, according to the 2022 Media Bias Chart. While there is not anything necessarily wrong with this, it is beneficial for both audiences to hear what both networks have to say on a topic and understand what facts neither is reporting on.
While it’s important to consume news from diverse sources, it is also a good idea to do your own research and fact check what you read or hear.
Taking matters into your own hands by reading multiple articles or watching different news channels will be beneficial to helping you consume balanced media. It will allow you to gather all the information and support your need to build your own perspective on a given topic.
Journalists are here to provide stories to inform an audience. You are the one to decide which article to read and which news station to watch — so choose wisely!
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