If I had a dollar for every time someone called me “ignorant” or told me to “inform myself” on current events and issues in the world, I would probably be able to pay for my entire college education. It seems like every time you get in an argument, someone is telling you to “get informed” and stop being “blind to the facts”. But before you throw out those phrases, take a look in the mirror. Where are YOU getting YOUR information on news and current events? Whenever I tell people I’m going into journalism, there’s always that one person that says it’s a dying field. To a degree, they are correct. By the time I actually begin my career, newspapers and print magazines may become obsolete. We are leaning more towards a digital world, where anyone with decent typing skills can call themselves a journalist. Op-ed pieces are becoming 140-character tweets and the media is becoming more biased than ever.
With this new digital age, opinions and information are being shared at a rate higher than ever before. We now have the power to edit video clips to show exactly what we want to show. We are able to warp headlines to plant an idea in the viewer’s head before they even read the article. All of these things are not done by professional journalists– they are now done by anyone in the world. I contribute to this,too. My entire blog is a platform for me to share my opinions. While there is nothing wrong with our newfound ability to share our opinions, it is important to be aware of what we are consuming.
I am going to throw something out here that may come as a shock to my fellow 15-25 year olds: Twitter is not a legitimate news source. Those videos that you see on Twitter can be edited. They have been transferred from phone to phone between many different people. If you pass a piece of paper around a room of 100 people, it will come back wrinkled and certainly not the same as it originally was. The same goes for various items on social media. People warp them to their liking, post them with catchy headlines or attached to clever tweets, and they spread like a wildfire.
In addition to the obviously biased social media, other seemingly legitimate sources are also warped. Take The Odyssey Online, for example. They draw you in with catchy headlines and interesting stories, but truthfully those stories are written by college students with little to no previous journalistic experience and nobody to fact-check them. Similar media platforms are popping up everywhere. Our generation now has the (wonderful) ability to share their opinions with the world, but at what cost to the reader?
We seem to forget that not all headlines are truthful, nor is everything you read. I’m currently taking a media history and culture class, and this problem has been going on since the birth of print media. People started newspapers that wrote fallacies about the rich and famous. Today we call them tabloids. It is entirely legal and socially acceptable to falsify facts and fabricate elaborate stories. In fact, that’s how the media industry ultimately makes their money.
So before you call someone ignorant, check yourself first. Where are you getting your information? Social media is not a legitimate source, nor is any other opinion-based platform. Heck, even well-established platforms like Fox News are spewing opinions at their viewers. Although any news source is going to be slightly biased, here’s a few that have been statistically proven to be the least: