We’ve all heard the saying, “There are two sides to every story.” And sometimes, that’s true in journalism–and life. But balance is not an element of journalism and certainly not its goal. While reporters investigate both—or many—points of view to arrive at what Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel call “the most complete understanding of the facts,” giving equal time to both sides may not always be fair to the truth.
Representation is a huge challenge for newsrooms, and you’re right– they need to do better. When news outlets consult the same people, again and again, the audience is deprived of a full range of voices, perspectives and even facts. A lack of diversity and representation can also breed audience disengagement and mistrust.
America’s partisan divide is becoming more pronounced, and cable news is stoking these divisions even more than social media, according to a new study that tracked the news consumption of tens of thousands of people over four years.
Chances are we all know someone – a family member, a friend, a classmate, or a co-worker – who believes in conspiracy theories. The temptation to fact-check their every statement may be strong, but it isn’t likely to change anyone’s mind.
With any human endeavor, there’s potential for error. While it is the responsibility of journalists and news organizations to deliver accurate and fair reporting, consumers should never assume that everything presented before them is the complete and final word.
Journalists get this question—or lament—all the time from people who think the news offers too much opinion and not enough fact. More than two-thirds of Americans say they see too much opinion and bias in news. Hence the plea, “just stick to the facts.” Here’s the problem: Serving up just the facts can misrepresent the news or even create a false narrative.
The personalization of news is a permanent feature of our information ecosystem that comes with some benefits and many challenges. News consumers are often overwhelmed by the amount of news they’re exposed to on a daily basis, and news personalization definitely helps by filtering that content. But algorithms that allow news outlets to curate information can lead to a filter bubble, polarization and extreme views.
This is an excellent question and a tough one to answer. According to the Pew Research Center, newsrooms are 77 percent white, which seems disproportionate at first glance. But according to 2021 census data, the United States is, indeed, 76.3 percent “white alone.” But data is subjective, and newsrooms do not reflect the racial makeup of the country in less-quantifiable but equally important ways. Let’s break these down.
Not enough. Journalists around the world are targets of both real and online attacks, and impunity for these crimes is on the rise. Look no further than Ukraine to see journalists risking their lives to document Russia’s historic invasion of Europe’s second-largest country. According to Reporters Without Borders, more than 1,000 foreign correspondents have joined the Ukrainian press corps on the ground.
Public trust in facts has been on the decline for about two decades, and it’s taken a toll. Americans no longer agree on a common set of facts. Many can’t tell the difference between a fact and an opinion, and a growing number no longer trust experts or institutions that used to be the source of basic information. These trends together have led to an epistemic crisis known as truth decay.