The New York Times. The Wall Street Journal. FiveThirtyEight. CNN. Fox News. MSNBC. The list goes on. Regardless of your political view or standpoint, media is influential, powerful and important. Media can divide a nation, but it can also help bring people together.
As a high school newspaper editorial board, we know that our influence may not be as strong as sources funded by multi-million dollar corporations and our audience may not be as large as over one million digital subscribers (yes, we do have a website and you should check it out). However, The Piedmont Highlander is still a newspaper and we are still journalists–a role that comes with the same amount of responsibility, regardless of funding or audience.
The role of media is to foster discussions. Now more than ever, we think this role is extremely important. Living in the liberal bastion of our country, it might be easy to get caught up in our one-sided bubble and disregard opposing views. While individuals are entitled to do so, the media should not. People look to newspapers, websites and blogs for information, and sometimes affirmation, so it is important that media recognizes all views, embraces that there are no wrong or right opinions and accepts that disagreement will arise between people.
According to an article recently published on Gizmodo, “news curators” on the social media site Facebook were instructed to fill the trending news section of users’ feeds with selected stories. One former curator said he believed this tactic had the effect of censoring conservative views. Sixty-two percent of adults get their news from social media, according to Pew Research Center. Even if these social media news outlets, like Facebook, weren’t actively controlling what users saw, we live in an era where it is increasingly easy to surround oneself with biased media that confirms rather than informs.
It’s no longer “All the news that’s fit to print”, but rather “All the news that fits my perspective.” An effect of this new attitude is that people’s news sources are so closely tied to their values that a differing stance is regarded as a personal attack rather than an objective debate. In a society that is rioting over the outcome of a democratic election, this divisive notion is scary. It shows that unless the media changes to become more understanding of different views, our population will continue to grow further apart.
Media should incite productive discussion beyond just the realm of politics as well. In every conversation, whether in regards to special education at PHS or the impact of social media, the role of the news media is to accurately inform the public on all sides of the story, so that discussions can be opposing, but still balanced and thus fruitful. This balanced presentation of facts is one of the goals that we strive for as an editorial board in addition to informing our readers.
In light of recent events, we wanted to outline our role as a news outlet and recognize our responsibilities. Now, you must consider your choices as an informed reader, not just in terms of content, but also in regards to bias.