Unbiased News?

August 18, 2017

Fake news is a thing, sites that publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation. Unethical journalism has a long history. At the founding of America, newspapers were partisan (e.g., federalist versus anti-federalist) including the infamous James Calendar (first a Jefferson crony, then turned against him and exposed the Sally Hemings affair). Yellow journalism was big beginning in the late 19th century, sensationalism to sell papers, not the truth. Leading practitioners included Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Hearst's reporting led directly to the Spanish-American War.

 

Who provides unbiased news/reporting? Probably most hard-news sources strictly reporting the news, from Fox to Al-Jazeera English. There are journalistic ethics and standards, with truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity and fairness required. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal editorials are left-wing and right-wing, respectively, but hard news stories are expected to be fact-based and generally unbiased. No doubt NYT puts up more resources to be favorable to the left and WSJ to the right, but don't expect outright lies. I think the BBC and the Economist are good sources, largely because they have a non-US focus.

 

Having said that, there is plenty of room for criticism, from obvious biases (especially on specific shows with specific hosts and commentators) from right (e.g., Fox) to left (MSNBC or Al-Jazeera). Its even worse on the internet, with any number of shows having no interest in unbiased journalism. Political correctness is a thing and sometimes difficult to get a handle on. Certain things that I don't have a hard opinion on seem to be dog whistles to others. I also find it difficult to figure out why certain people have extreme positions (e.g., Neo-Nazis). I can appreciated conservative versus liberal, but these are not in themselves extreme positions.

 

I also like to hear opinions from people I usually disagree with, from right (e.g., George Will) to left (Noam Chomsky). There comments are usually well reasoned and based on fact (cherry-picking information is fair game), but leading to opinions/conclusions I disagree with. Part of my analysis is to figure out why I disagree with them.  

 

 

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© 2016 Gary Giroux

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