Just twenty years ago, news was consumed primarily through the local newspapers left on driveways and pre-scheduled broadcasts. Then along came the internet, giving citizens everywhere complete freedom in selecting their news sources. The evolution of journalism’s accessibility from controlled programming to the freedom of our fingertips has presented a vital issue: the young people of today will only take in the news they want to see and not necessarily what they need to see. As a generation given the opportunity to use our social platforms to have a political voice, we can’t allow the bias of news sources to take away our authenticity. As technology improves every year, there are more ways that kids and adults receive their news instead of the older traditional newspapers although they are still available today. With the rise of popularity of social media sites, there are many apps available on phones, tablets, computers, and other forms of media that people can easily see selective news. This creates a major problem in crafting their own opinions. A study done in August by the Pew Research Center reported that 67 percent of US adults get their news on social media, and it’s likely that even a larger portion of adolescents use their social apps as a primary resource. An even more frightening find was that 64 percent of these individuals got their news on only one site, not looking at the other sides to media. This means that bias can quickly consume their outlook on the many issues today. When looking at bias created in the political realm, social media has been in the forefront in shaping public opinion. Also shown in Pew’s study, 25 percent of people receive news from multiple social media sites, and there has been a concern of how this affects a younger audience. Snapchat is currently the most popular social media app for teens and young adults, as 86 percent of its 150 million users are under the age of 34. Of this demographic, 54 percent lean more liberal, while only 33 percent are on the ride side of the spectrum. Complex, Cosmopolitan, MTV, and Buzzfeed are among the most viewed networks on the app, which have all tended to cover news from a more liberal perspective. With more young Americans turning to their phones and less turning on cable news, the fear is that citizens will only be exposed to the networks they follow, add, or subscribe to on their media platforms. Social studies teacher Ryan Finnefrock could not stress enough the importance of viewing news from multiple perspectives. “What I try to do when taking in news is read or watch from some of one source, then move to another,” said Finnefrock. “I think it’s extremely important to watch as much but also read as much as you can, because you need to be able to learn the facts before forming your opinion.” Considering that Finnefrock is not far removed from the younger generation of Americans today, he hasn’t seen news evolve like older citizens have, but still understands the role bias has on the coverage of the modern-day stories. “I’m not old enough to know how news was covered twenty or thirty years ago, but what I do know is that journalists today are pressured to get news out there quicker, which means that the bias probably comes quicker too. I can’t say for sure that the amount of bias has changed over time, but I can say that more bias can be seen in a quicker amount of time.” English teacher Mike McEwan is another educator at Chaparral who attempts to motivate his students to eliminate bias through the study of varying sources. McEwan assigns his students to come prepared each Monday with a relevant news story, which he then discusses, aiming to look at the world through an objective lense. He always warns his students to “question everything,” as this can be a healthy strategy in discovering truth. “We live in a so-called ‘soundbite’ culture today where news outlets have to catch our attention to stay in business,” observes McEwan. “A lot of times, they have to appeal to their audience and take extreme stances, so this definitely creates bias. It’s what they have to do to survive.” When talking about bias in news, not only does McEwan believe that politics plays a part to the division in the country, he looks at politics as the molding of an individual’s identity. “Politics is how we create our own belief system,” notes McEwan. “I’m not sure if political polarization creates bias in the news or if bias in the news creates polarization. They both feed off each other and it’s what keeps these news outlets running.” No matter what you believe in or where in the political spectrum you stand, it can be your own personal bias that contributes to our country’s divide. Some bias is obviously for the better, but some of it divides Americans to a far extreme each and every day to where we may no longer be able to reconnect as we once did again. As older generations will influence our generation to stick with their views on politics and news, always remember that you do have options. The even younger generations are bound to follow in our footsteps so it's only right we set good examples of diverse outlook on media. It is of great importance that you learn to take in as many diverse sources as you can, while also striving to learn the truth before making judgements. We are the future of this rapidly innovating and adapting country, so let’s not allow our prejudices tear it apart.
Srory by Carson Frost and Erica Grotts