Media Bias Chart, Why It Can Make a Difference

Discussion in 'National Issues' started by chipgallo, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. chipgallo

    chipgallo VIP

    Apr 9, 2004
    Trophy Points:
    I have been following the activities of Vanessa Otero in developing a dynamic, interactive media bias platform in addition to her Media Bias Chart which is in version 4. Recently she sent this out on how tracking media bias can have an impact.

    [begin forwarded text]

    Hi News Nerds (I mean "nerds" in the best, most loving way possible),

    If we provide reputable, data-driven rankings of the news, will it even make a difference?

    I get this question a lot, especially from people who really like the chart and want more people to know about it and rely on it. That is, I get this question from people who are inclined towards reasonableness and who recognize the toxicity of extreme polarization in news sources.

    What I think underlies this question is fear, or sense of despair, that even if people did have a tool to be able to distinguish news they should rely on from news they should avoid, many people would still choose the low-quality, highly-biased sources because it satisfies a primal need to be right, and that this work of distinguishing will ultimately not make a difference.

    I agree that many people will still choose low-quality, highly-biased sources. I disagree that this work will not make a difference.

    Providing reputable rankings is like providing a calorie count next to food choices on a menu. Some people will look at those calorie counts and not care, and order extremely high-calorie foods anyway. For some, it may actually reinforce their decision to order it, and to do so with a sense of rebelliousness or righteousness; as in, “you don’t know me, I don’t care that it’s bad for me, and now I want it even more.” But for some (a greater number, I hope), will say, “Whoa. I didn’t know that was 1100 calories. I’m going to order something better for me.”

    What calorie counts and reputable rankings provide is information, and the ability for people to choose. Right now, many people do not actively choose what they allow to influence their minds, and for many of them, having news ranking information would lead to them actively making better choices.

    In the realm of health and fitness, many people have actively chosen healthier food options and lifestyles, even though it is hard to do so, and even though the unhealthy options and temptations of human nature persist. But many people are leading healthier lives in large part due to the fact that the information is available and they had tools and structures through which to make better choices.

    There will always be low-quality, highly biased news. Many publishers of such content will continue to take advantage of people’s inclination toward righteousness and polarization, try to expand its reach, and profit from it. But just because we can’t solve the entire problem doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do the thing that will improve it. In essence, this nature of this project reminds me of this quote, written up in the New York Times by David Brooks in 2007, of then-candidate Barack Obama, summing up a takeaway from the philosopher Reinhold Niehbur:

    “I take away…the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away ... the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naïve idealism to bitter realism.”

    Thanks for joining me in this endeavor.

    [end of forwarded text]
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
    • Like Like x 2

Share This Page