Jennifer Schmid

Local news stands offering global and American stories.

Michelle Arshad, Reporter

From the Amazonian and Australian wildfires to the Chinese detainment of ethnic Uighur Muslims, the “speedy” distribution of critical media has significantly slowed down. Important news that should be brought to public light as soon as it breaks is being delayed and polluted by bias. As a result, people are left confused and digging for information that they cannot seem to find. However, are major news outlets the only ones to blame?


About 68% of Americans report that they receive a portion of their news from social media. However, over half of the news distributed on social media is inaccurate and construed. The growth of social media over the last 15 years has resulted in an influx of unedited and poorly researched information being distributed to the American public. Many individuals have little to no idea what is actually happening in the world around them.


“Viewing news from social media is polarizing,” noted senior Alice Abia-Okon, an avid consumer of media and holistic news. “To raise the most attention, media sources will rely on extreme headlines…skew[ing] the nature of the story.”


Abia-Okon, who has experience in catering posts on social media, understands the true weight that platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have on people’s opinions and thought processes.


This dilemma is further fueled by the lack of communication the public receives from major media companies largely in charge of spreading global news in an unbiased and timely manner. Much of the news “fed” to the public is fueled by political agenda and provokes fear and stress in teenagers and young adults that are highly vulnerable to having their opinions changed. The news is arguably supposed to be the most trustworthy way for the average American to become an informed and well-rounded citizen; however, when big media withholds much of the details we receive, there is information malnutrition amongst the public.


“The amount of knowledge that is withheld from the public is hard to say because it is dependent upon the circumstances,” said Chloe Mason, a senior who has a deep understanding of the role of politics and media on public opinion. “The amount of withheld information is growing, and will continue to grow as the people put themselves into a position of subservience by choosing to remain uninformed.”


Much of the general public believes that information is being withheld from them and is heavily biased. In a Gallup/Knight Foundation study on the impact of news, many Americans reported feeling that a staggering 62% of the information they were receiving was biased and inaccurate. Over 80% of individuals reported feeling angered or upset by the biased information they did or did not receive. A downward trend has been statistically acknowledged amongst heavily influential and massively popular news outlets such as The Mirror and the Guardian. The four papers calculated into this study once published about 100 global news stories a day, but the number dropped 40% by 2010. Overall, the mass agreement was that The Associated Press and PBS News were the most reliable information outlets


One of the main influencers in the bias and delay behind most global and local news is the American political agenda. Politics are easily one of the most talked-about, debated, and influential topics in American society as it plays a role in almost everything American’s experience. From America’s interactions with other countries to the relationships many have with certain family members that they only see on Thanksgiving or Christmas, politics has become the foundation of which America is being built on. So, when news outlets bias a certain political party or politician that favors or supports (both opinion wise and financially) their personal needs or want, it is not a surprise to Americans when they view propagandized and party-affiliated news. For example, the New Yorker and the Slate produce content that is directed towards the left-liberal side of the news, appealing to Democrats and those aligning themselves heavily with the left. On the other hand, conservatives adhere to outlets such as Fox, a known right-wing source. A more direct example would be Micheal Bloomberg, a current 2020 presidential candidate, who owns his own media company and makes contributions to others.


“It is obvious that social media, politicians, and skewed news sources such as Instagram and Fox News are untrustworthy sources, yet people still continue to follow these sources and use them as a primary basis for understanding the world around them,” said Mason. “When people decide to follow these sources instead of verified, unbiased ones, it makes it that incredibly easy for both the elite and charlatans to manipulate them.”


However, the personal agendas of the news outlets are not the only issues to blame when it comes to the information malnutrition. Other factors that contribute to the deficit in global communications are creativity, expenses, and government influence. Foreign coverage has gotten significantly more expensive over the last few decades. Many components go into creating global news stories that are accurate and timely. From permits to travel to equipment and personnel, the cost of global news is skyrocketing and is extremely susceptible to factors such as inflation and recession. The other factor of creativity, or lack thereof, also contributes to the media’s depletion in global news. Once an event becomes public knowledge, there are only so many articles that can be written about the same subject. Often, a few outlets will pick up the story and revive the most clicks. Smaller or more uncommon outlets receive little to no traffic and are pushed to the bottom of the search result lists. Reporters are then forced to pull new angles and twists to produce traffic building articles, but most events can only last so long. Other times, information becomes difficult to come across due to the influence of governments and big corporations having a heavy hand on what media is able to make it through the search engine filters. 


So, why do people need global, unbiased news? Being a well rounded and informed citizen is a highly valued trait amongst most people. Knowing what is happening around the world is a significant part of that. Being informed also affects the way many individuals live their lives. From what food is imported into our grocery stores to what conditions our foreign family members are living in, what happens around the world influences the way we live our day to day lives. 


When people lack access to global or even timely local news, it breeds a generation of ignorant, unknowledgeable citizens. Since what happens around the world affects our day to day activities, having no global foundation allows individuals to be misinformed, uneducated, and judgemental. Media companies unknowingly encourage such behavior that plagues much of American society today.


When people are not given the correct information in a timely manner, their imagination is left to fill in the blanks. Delayed and biased media has a much bigger impact than many big media outlets are willing to admit.


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