Open with Impact: As time marches on so too does the media, and in modern discourse it has become increasingly apparent that there is growing dishonesty and polarization in said media.
Thesis: Today I will seek to convince you that the media has become oversaturated with politics to the point of no longer being purely reliable sources of information and that the news system needs to change.
Connect: As citizens of the United States, and avid users of social media, the things which news media and independent journalists report and how they report it plays a major role in how we conduct ourselves and where we stand politically, as such, dishonesty has no place in a healthy modern media.
Preview: During this speech I will address:
The primary problem is that news media and journalists have become so polarized as to be dishonest in their reporting and misrepresentative of many situations and of certain individuals as well.
Two well known examples of this are Fox News and CNN which are both stated as having moderate to heavy political biases to the right and left respectively.
It is these biases which result in poor reporting of factual information and this polarization has spread rapidly, resulting in a dearth of unbiased factual news sources and an over abundance of politicized news sources with varying degrees of accuracy in their reporting.
And while this isn’t all encompassing, it is still an issue that affects the public at large.
All the information regarding this comes from Media Bias Fact Check, an independent organization focused on impartiality and accuracy in reporting.
The most dangerous effects of this polarization are the mischaracterization of certain situations and individuals which greatly damages open dialogue about these topics and with these individuals.
One such example is NBC’s interview with Professor Jordan B. Peterson, a clinical psychologist who has risen in popularity who is against both the radical left and radical right and is often misrepresented by left leaning media outlets like NBC and Mic as being alt right.
In NBC’s interview they edited several key portions of the interview out which framed Peterson as being aligned with the alt right, something which Peterson actively refutes throughout the extended interview. The full interview can be found on NBC’s youtube channel for further reference.
The impact of this over-politicization of the media is severe both in the short term and the long term as it affects not only people’s’ perceptions but their political agenda.
As stated in the 2014 Stanford article for the journal American Economic Review “Bias in Cable News: Persuasion and Polarization” by Gregory J. Martin and Ali Yurukoglu, people view news media which aligns with their own ideologies, thus causing a sort of echo chamber effect which reinforces pre-existing views and undermines dialogue between groups.
Their research also shows how these partisan news sources actively affect elections, causing changes in voting patterns among their respective viewers.
Now that I’ve introduced the issues caused by political oversaturation in media, I’d like to support this by discussing with you the causes of such
The first and most probable cause of this stems from another issue with the modern news media which is its negativity bias. The news is concerned with generating revenue from viewership, and as a result broadcasts primarily negative, dramatic and controversial topics in order to meet this goal.
As shown in “News and the Negativity Bias: What the Research Says” which is a 2017 article by Christopher Reeve (Not the actor), the news media reports on things in an overwhelmingly negative way, causing people to be fatigued and devoid of hope, which fits in perfectly with political issues that tend towards negativity and cause anger, thus exacerbating the original issue.
Another issue, this one surrounding a bit of policy that is no longer in place and lacks a viable substitute known as the Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine previously restricted news organizations’ time for partisan discussion without equal representation of both sides of a debate and was repealed by the FCC in 1987 but as shown by the 2007 Pew Research article “Is the Fairness Doctrine Fair Game” which discusses a point when democrats sought to revive the doctrine, and by the current polarization of media, it is still debated as to whether the doctrine should be brought back and many believe that some form of substitute should take its place.
It is a lack of regulation on political discourse in news that allows for echo chambers and extremist views to thrive and disrupt civil discourse, and while the Fairness Doctrine was critically flawed as stated by the opposition for it represented by The Heritage Organization in a 1993 article “Why the Fairness Doctrine is Anything But Fair” which claimed that it failed to encourage the discussion of more controversial issues, the shifting bipartisan support for the doctrine shows that a replacement to the doctrine is desired to varying degrees.
Now, assuming my previous points were sufficient for you to, if not agree with me, at least be open to the possibility, I’d like to discuss some solutions that could potentially solve the issue.
The first solution I propose is simply to be more critical of the news, and to actively seek out sources that take a neutral stance to your own and to check each source you find with one of the bias identification services available on the internet.
Granted nobody wants to take the extra time of vetting news themselves, but it is important to have the proper information on a topic before discussion can truly take place, which is a source of contention when it comes to nearly all major issues in the modern day.
The second solution, that on the community level is one that is already seeing some use and success, as I mentioned before, bias identification services are available on the internet, and by creating more and better such services and by boycotting overly partisan or unethical sources on a large scale will prompt change within the industry.
The news media as I mentioned earlier, is focusing on negative content and politics due to consumer demand, but moving away from the media that does this the worst on a large scale will prompt them to change their ways, as these are businesses which care about their profit margin above all else.
Finally, on a governmental or societal scale, an increase in regulation on the media to avoid extremism and echo chambers becoming as prevalent as they are today.
The news media has grown more partisan as time has progressed, and while the Fairness Doctrine wasn’t a glowing success there are still things which we can learn from it in order to create new, superior policy to deal with these issues.
This was a monumental topic to cover, and as such I will restate my argument in a more manageable form.
Review: In est I count two major issues within the current news media, a trend towards sensationalism and partisan polarization.
This has led to a weakening of the trust between the public and the media, which was created with the intent of protecting the people from government tyranny. The media currently mislables, smears and slanders opposing viewpoints and has done all this to pander support from ideological supporters.
The news is incentivised by the public’s tendency towards the negative and affirmation of their political views, and the policy to keep them in check does not currently exist in a sufficient manner. This is putting a strain on our society that is not maintainable.
Not only is it possible to resolve these issues, but it is already being done in many ways, which was demonstrated by the Fairness Doctrine and the repeated call for its return. People simply need to accept the responsibility of finding the truth for themselves, rather than being content with the negativity and stress the media currently produces.
Conclude with Impact: The way things are now, the negativity surrounding all the information we receive will poison our society, but it is not difficult to correct these issues, it simply requires the will to do so.