“All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.”
― Will Rogers
While you watched the news last night after work, or as you sat reading your newspaper at breakfast this morning, you may have discovered a certain tone being embodied in the author’s delivery of information. The words being thrown at you, and the hundreds or thousands of other viewers watching the program or reading the paper, are brutally aimed at one political icon on one side of the agenda, while softer, gentler verbiage is blown to another politician on the other end of the spectrum like warm kisses on the cheek. Although you have become accustomed to this behavior, it is wrong; it is biased news.
With the majority of Maine’s population sandwiched between the “kingdom” of the Bangor Daily News and the “realm” of the Portland Press Herald, it leaves the people of this state stuck between a rock and a hard place. These newspapers lean obviously left on most issues, and claim a “bipartisan view” because of their one or two conservative columnists (thank you Jacob Posik and Matthew Gagnon) that are tucked away behind the latest basketball scores and yard sale advertisements.
The worst part is not that they are biased in the way they write or the articles they chose to run; I mean who can blame them, we all are. It is that they try to conceal it to subtly guide people toward their way of thinking.
Now I am not totally against the BDN and the PPH. I grew up with these two papers, their great writers and outstanding coverage of local events; for that I am thankful. Besides, every week I get to see the two face off in a battle of sorts called “Who Can Bash LePage the Hardest?”
The source of my concern, however, is the lack of availability of unbiased, or even fairly worded “balanced” news, to the average American. Trying to find an unbiased reporter, writer or newscaster is like trying to find an orange tree in an Alaskan winter; impossible.
This is not just a local issue either; Fox, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Wall Street Journal are all biased. Even if a media outlet is biased toward your views, it still leaves consumers with only part of the story. Although we cannot change man-kind, how stubborn we are or our inability to stay in the middle, there is hope with the dawning of the new social media era.
Social media is seen by most as a distraction and as a strangely addicting form of communication (or lack thereof) for today’s populous. There is one upside to that though, and that is the creation of online news sources. These online news sources (The Maine Wire as a perfect example), are developed by grassroots organizations with a mission to give the average citizen a platform to voice opinions.
Yes, writers for these publications are very biased, but there is no lack of opposing views and discussion. Not only can you read an article on a website such as this, but you can present a rebuttal, discuss and fact check; creating a culture of honest writing and mutual respect. These small (but powerful) platforms are changing the way in which we consume the news.
While trust of national and large-scale local news sources is eroding, the power of small communities and empowered individuals is taking over, placing trust in the hands of any citizen with a reasonable voice and willingness to speak out.
The American people should no longer be led like sheep, but should lead with well spoken voice and educated action.