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.

Conspiracy theories are nothing new. The oldest ones date back to Roman times and have circulated in varying degrees ever since. From the belief that the Earth is flat or that the CIA assassinated JFK to the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was rigged, these theories appeal to people looking for some semblance of order in our turbulent world. Apparently, there’s quite a few of these folks. According to two University of Chicago researchers, half of all Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory.