Awash in the glow of Twitter at 3 a.m., users rush to retweet a picture or video not yet seen on Fox or CNN with the caption “This is what the media won’t show you!”
Large media companies are being called out on a bipartisan basis for not providing full, fair and accurate coverage.
On June 12, Fox News published digitally manipulated images of Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) on their website’s homepage. Fox published the photos without any disclaimer to the public that they were created by splicing together images from earlier protests.
“For a news photo that is supposed to be of the moment, it is completely egregious to manipulate this the way they have done,”Akili Ramsess, executive director of the National Press Photographers Association said to The Seattle Times.
Additionally, in a recent slideshow depicting scenes from Seattle, Fox News mistakenly included a picture from St. Paul, Minnesota.
Fox removed the manipulated images and issued an apology for both mistakes in an editor’s note added to the story about CHAZ.
The concept of fake or misleading news is not a recent development in journalism.
In the summer of 2004, The New York Times issued an apology for its coverage of Iraq, admitting it had been misled about the presence of weapons of mass destruction by sources including Iraqi leader Ahmad Chalabi.
By analyzing the accuracy issues mass media corporations face over the years, we can see a clear need to divest from single media platform consumption.
With advances in social media sharing and live streaming technology, mass media corporations and cable news networks like Fox and CNN don’t have to be your only source of news. In fact, if you want to maintain a healthy media diet, they shouldn’t be.
Think of Fox and CNN as double bacon cheeseburgers.
They are fun to consume every once in a while, and, sure, sometimes they satisfy a craving. But, when you look back on what you just consumed, most of the time you don’t feel any more knowledgeable — you probably just feel sweaty.
Indeed, a healthy media diet is not dissimilar to a healthy nutritional diet.
Just like a healthy nutritional diet calls for a variety of different foods, a healthy media diet requires you to consume a mixed bag of media.
A good way to obtain a mixed bag of media is to first subscribe to a few news sources within your immediate vicinity such as local TV stations or newspapers. Then, subscribe to a few news sources within your state, several within your nation and one or two international news sources.
In order to fully grasp what is going on in the world it is important to pay attention to not only what is on the news but also who, where and why.
First person accounts are excellent, but they can carry a certain bias due to emotional closeness to the issue. Birds eye view accounts are also excellent, but they can leave out important details due to a lack of geographic closeness to the issue.
Additionally, while objectivity is the end goal for all journalists, all journalists are humans that make mistakes and carry with them implicit biases.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of media consumers to comprehend the implications this will have on news coverage and understand that one media platform alone cannot possibly provide you with full, fair and accurate coverage.