![Image description: In two scenes, a girl is surrounded by news, statistics, and questions, and asks if what everyone is saying is all right. End ID](https://cdn.thegazelle.org/gazelle/2023/12_11_23/Iman_columns_biased media.png
News nowadays comes from many sources all around the world. With the constant stream of information on the internet, it is only natural that we will be exposed to many narratives that differ in opinions and perspectives. So then how can you tell what is right, and what is fabricated? Your opinions on matters may be formed from external sources simply because you are not aware that you are only being exposed to one side of the story. Here are a few things to be mindful of when you next take a dive into the news.
1. Reliable sources
Where do you get your information from? How well-known are the sources? The rule of thumb tends to be the bigger the name, the more reliable they are. For example, if you are reading pop culture news on E! News compared to a gossip magazine with some questionable headlines, figuring out which one is reliable or not becomes self-explanatory. Furthermore, sometimes some contextual information is needed. In the United Kingdom, for example, it is worth knowing that there is bias within their news media outlets as most national newspapers, such as The Guardian, are in favour of the Labour Party, while others show support for the Conservative party, such as The Daily Mail. In that case, any news on the Labour Party from The Daily Mail may not be as reliable as reports from The Guardian. This bias was seen in the 2015 general election where Ed Miliband, former leader of the Labour Party, had his image tainted by The Daily Mail (reminder: The Daily Mail supports Conservatives and Miliband is Labour) which was arguably a cause for his unsuccessful campaign. This is the power that the media has over people. How easily it can affect opinions based on what they publish.
2. Pay attention to detail
In reference to what I mentioned earlier with being exposed to one side of the argument, without realising it, you could be drawn into a crafted narrative that is, really, more of a performance. Sometimes it is easy to point out the fake news headlines because of how implausible they sound; other times you can notice something is staged because your own eyes tell you so. For example, if you watch a journalist lying flat on the ground and talking about an attack that happened near her while civilians in the background show no sign of fear or panic, then something clearly does not add up. One would naturally be drawn to the journalist, seemingly in fear for her life. However, occasionally taking a step back to see the bigger picture may reveal blatant lies.
Another example can be related to images used as photographic evidence. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken over the media by storm to the point where sometimes if we don’t pay attention, we miss out on the mistakes AI makes (it is not perfect so yes, there will be mistakes), giving away the fact that it is not a real photo.
3. Focus on the language
A word can change the meaning of a sentence when you really think about the definition and how it sounds with the rest of the sentence. For example, not using the right name to describe someone or a group of people could draw attention away from them. By stating their actual name or nationality, a focus is drawn in on them, which raises awareness for why they are mentioned in the news. There is a glossary of problematic media language where some synonyms used beat around the bush, per se, of what is actually happening. For example, let’s take a look at “insult” and “abuse.” They are synonyms of one another yet when you think of “insult,” a verbal slam comes to mind, meanwhile with “abuse,” you would think of a physical action. See how two similar words can so starkly change meanings?
There is so much going on in the world today that awareness and facts don’t always make it to the surface of the media for us to see, or they are being silenced, manipulated, or even flat-out disregarded. Regardless of such, our actions of educating ourselves and actively seeking out the truth can be a step forward towards a better future. Knowledge, the truth, and education are obtainable powers.
Xandra Eid is Deputy Columns Editor. Email them at email@example.com