Unfortunately, in the current political atmosphere, it is not uncommon to judge someone or something based on the media outlet it was broadcast from. As a market participant, media sources are struggling to keep up their ratings and to remain relevant in a divided nation. In order to do that, sources need to take a side that will appeal to the belief system of their viewers. With the division of the nation comes the division of the information that enforces the beliefs of the majority of viewers.
For example, in a court case, it is the job of each juror to remain objective and impartial while they are hearing the facts of the case. However, if they are not given all the facts, how can they possibly be able to have an opinion that is reflective of the circumstances? Conversely, if they enter into the situation with a strong preconceived belief, they will only pick up on the arguments that justify their own feelings. Either way, the system is flawed. It’s the same way with the media. How can we as a society look at anything objectively if the sources from which we are receiving our information are presenting multiple different versions of the same story?
By nature, people do not want to experience cognitive dissonance every time they turn on the TV. As such, the audience will gravitate towards sources that will not go against their internal beliefs and opinions. Twenty years ago, news was news. No matter where you watched it, it was the same information and it was up to the viewer to objectively place their opinions into the context of the story. The difference between a “good” news channel and a “bad” news channel was the depth of coverage and scope of relevant information. Now, this distinction is given based on the reinforcement and justification of the viewers own preconceived notions.
Think about this. How would news outlets such as Fox and CNN report on 9/11 if it happened in 2018, instead of 17 years ago?
Photo Credit: marketwatch.com
(The chart is meant to illustrate the different levels of bias present in mainstream news outlets).