Political polarization in the US is reported on frequently in the news media. There are many voices that say the media is to blame and therefore, it’s credibility has faltered in the faith many citizens have in its accuracy and bias
The following questions ask you to discuss some aspects of the ongoing issues.
Does the media spend too much effort covering “bad” news? What do you consider “good news?” Give examples. How could/should news be “balanced?” Or what could/should journalists do to address perceived bias by their readers?
A recent study concluded that young adults “know less and care less about news and public affairs than any other generation of Americans in the past 50 years?” Do you believe that conclusion is an accurate one? Why?
User generated content is becoming increasingly important, not only in social media but also in professional news media. Point out what benefits and what challenges this raises in the credibility of news media.
- a. There’s an old adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.” People always say that they want to see more “happy” news but that’s just not the reality. The media covers events that it knows its audience will read and care about. If a shooting happens at a local school, there’s no way that a story of someone volunteering to build houses for the homeless is going to top that. It may be included in the news, sure, but the school shooting will take the top slot every time.
In my opinion, that’s the way it should be. Yes, the world is depressing sometimes and we’d all like to see more positive things, but we have to think about what is most important. That school shooting in the short-term (and maybe even the long-term) is going to have much more of an impact on that community than the building of houses. That story of the houses is touching and does mean a lot, but I think most people would tune into the story about the shooting because it affects them more — whether they’d like to admit it or not.
So, in short, no, I do not think the media covers “too much” bad news. Bad things happen and people need to know about them.
Now, a lot of local news stations always have a fun, quirky segment that’s usually lighthearted and fun. My local station, KFDM Channel 6, does a “pet of the day” segment where viewers submit pictures of their pets. It’s a short segment, but I always enjoy seeing pictures of other people’s animals — it lifts my spirits.
b. I don’t think journalists have to prove that they’re not biased to anyone — if they’re doing their jobs correctly, then they shouldn’t be biased. Someone is always going to dislike what someone writes about, no matter how factual and unbiased the story is because that’s just how people are.
2. I believe that younger people care about different things.
What I really want to know is, what young person is consumed with news and public affairs in any generation. Everyone always says that this generation cares about so and so less than the previous generations, but when is that comparison being made? Is it being made between and 18 year-old and a 70 year-old, because they’re going to care about different things.
Or, is the comparison between an 18 year-old today and the 70 year-old when they were 18? I’m sure people said the same thing about Baby Boomers when they were teenagers. People tend to care about the pressing issues in their life — people don’t typically take an interest in things that they know nothing about. I think it’s always been that way and will continue to be.
I know plenty of people who will readily admit that they don’t keep up with politics or ever read the news — but to contradict that, I’m 19 and I read the news everyday. Yes, it’s my job and I have an interest in it, but it’s also because I’m different from Mary Jo next door and she’s different from John Smith across the street and he’s different from Charlie in England and so on and so on. Everyone is different.
I don’t think people of younger generations care less about current affairs — in some cases I think they care more, especially when it comes to social issues.
3. The benefits of user-generated content are that one, that there is a constant stream of information being fed to the public — this is great when the person generating the content actually knows what they’re doing.
The challenge arises when you have random Joe Blows putting whatever out into the world without regards to accuracy, and then that gets confused with actual journalism. It does affect the credibility of news media only because a lot of people don’t know the difference between gossip and journalism.