A free press was viewed by our Founding Fathers as a pillar of our democracy, and even though it has been maligned off and on since the beginning, the people still understand how important truthful information is to our nation. How can we register our educated approval or disapproval on issues or leaders without knowing the truth about what it happening? It is fundamental.
The trouble today is that information is rarely presented purely on the basis of truth, but routinely compounded with political bias, marketing concerns or petty personal favoritism. The result has left us open to dangerous false narratives that have created a warped view on many critical issues facing all segments of our society.
In the 1980s, the KGB interjected a completely fabricated narrative into the news stream that AIDS was a byproduct of secret U.S. experiments. It was completely bogus, but it was a terribly successful disinformation campaign. Since then, the technique has become routine practice for virtually any nefarious actor who wants to inflict harm on another. And with a media, who increasingly is willing to inject any false narrative into their reporting to perpetuate their bias, it is leaving the public more and more in the dark about the truth.
This new reality is having a dramatic impact on American society. In a recent media study conducted by the Gallup and Knight Foundation, with a very large sampling, it reported that 49 percent of Americas believed that news was very bias; 54 percent believed that reporters intentionally misrepresented facts; and 28 percent believed that reporters made-up entire stories. Even 56 percent judged their own go-to news source as having a great deal of bias, and viewed opposing news source as 69 percent bias.
Younger Americans tend to see things more clearly. A full 80 percent view any news they encounter as untrustworthy. Older Americans are more trusting. Only 44 percent doubt their news.
A full 78 percent perceive online misinformation as the greatest media challenge we face, and 73 percent believe that major media platforms have a duty to edit out hate speech and misinformation. But, as has been questioned broadly, how are those media platforms to make decisions fairly through their own biases?
Who is to blame for the horrible partisan divide we are now facing? An overwhelming 84 percent blame the media.
A large number of people have asked me over the last year, where can we go to get the most unbiased reporting possible? Until now, I haven’t had a good answer, but recently WGN America has launched a new news platform focused directly on non-bias reporting. It is a throwback, and it is a marvel. Specifically, designed to challenge liberal and conservative based news and opinion content on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, it is laser focused on reporting straight-news. To my knowledge, you can’t get it anywhere else.
Be warned, it will take some time getting used to watching real news again. We are so accustomed now to getting a heavy dose of bias we agree with in our news, that it will seem a little “boring.” But once you get used to the balance and honesty, you will slowly begin to understand what you've been missing. It will feel like what you’re hearing and seeing can be trusted. That’s kind of a nice feeling for a change.
Photo Courtesy the Billings Gazette.