Americans increasingly consume biased, tailored news

Christopher Walker, Editor - in - Chief

Technology and the internet have allowed those alive today to have access to an unprecedented amount of information and resources. The information age we are currently living in and the technology behind it have influenced every aspect of our lives, including how we consume our news.  

The American political divide is growing; the graph provided shows Americans on the political right and left are increasingly alienated, disagreeing more and more over the current sitting president’s job performance.

Many believe this increasing divide comes in large part to the relatively new ability to only be exposed to news fitting the individual’s political preference, a change brought about by the overabundance of media available on the internet.

“People definitely have a preference when they’re reading news sites to check out whatever outlets fit their worldview. You read what makes you feel good, you watch what reaffirms your beliefs,” said Nicholas Duvernys, a doctoral student in financial economics.

Duvernys said, “News companies pander to their reader base because they’re trying to sell more newspapers or get more views. Journalism is a business.”

All major news outlets have been moved online and are subsequently easier to access and consume. In addition to the old staples of journalism, giant social media behemoths (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat) and technology companies (Apple, Google) are now relevant sources of information.

According to data compiled by the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of adults consume news on social media. These technology companies not only give their users the ability to find and read the type of news that fits their worldview, but actually tailor the news they read to where they fall on the political spectrum.

“A lot of what I read about the news or about politics comes from Facebook,” said sophomore interdisciplinary studies major Gage Cochrane. “It’s not necessarily where I get the majority of my information from, but it does influence my perception of the news and what’s going on in the world.”

Facebook, in particular, got a lot of bad press after having been perceived as having an integral role in the surprising results of 2016’s election night. The company and its CEO were harshly criticized for doing too little to stop the spread of “fake” news, information either completely fabricated or grossly exaggerated.

Facebook has now recently endowed its users with the ability to filter out fake news by allowing the community to vote on whether a news story is real or not, but many wonder if the steps taken are enough.   

Although social media is a growing hub of information resources, many people still get their news from more traditional media sources which have since moved online, such as “The Wall Street Journal” and “The New York Times.”

“What I read is still mostly the well-known papers, but the way I get those articles and columns is through Google News, which aggregates news pieces from all different sources,” said Duvernys.

“When picking which pieces I want to read on Google News, I don’t look at the site it’s coming from. I look at the title, I look at the issue at hand. I think platforms like Google News and Apple News might be the cure for this growing divide,” said Duvernys.

“If we can’t find a way to aggregate news sources like that in one cohesive place, one platform, I don’t know how else we can solve it.”