Why Aren’t There Any Trustworthy News Sources Anymore

News is supposed to be trustworthy and honest. What happened?
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Why cant we trust the news
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News and journalism are trades as old as civilization itself. The history and evolution of journalism are fascinating especially considering what it now consists of.

Journalism and reporting news has historically been a highly-touted profession of integrity and honor. In contrast, modern-day reporting feels to be at odds with the public. Maybe the worst part about it, is that much of the general public are blissfully unaware of that fact and that is intentional.

The personalization of news feeds, elite minority ownership of mass media and rampant misinformation through social media has made the majority of present day news sources untrustworthy at best.

1. Personalization of News

As per NiemanReports the news you see on your phone, computer, and even within your own Google searches has been tailored to you. You are being fed information that has been determined by an algorithm in an attempt to capture and hold your attention.

Your Google search history, geographical location, demographical information and more are all taken into account when you search for news. What you see is likely entirely different than what someone else sees who lives across the country, who is a different race or religion, or sits on the other side of the political aisle.

As a result, it is pretty easy to find a bubble of information that confirms your bias and supports your personal opinion. These are commonly referred to as "echo chambers" and often come with much resistance or complete omission of opposing information.

2. Mass Media Is Owned By The Elite Minority

90% of media is owned by 6 companies
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In 1983, 90% of the media was owned by 50 different companies. By 2012, 90% of the media was owned by 6 companies.

These 6 companies majorly control what you read, watch and listen to. Every single day. It applies across the board, regardless of your beliefs, bias, and politics. It is easy to think “well, I know the news I see is legitimate and is not trying to deceive me.”

Furthermore, it contributes to the likelihood of someone dismissing information from another source, since it does not match up with their favorite news outlet. Regardless, even if you did “choose” to get your information from another source, that choice is an illusion as well, considering the fact that you will be fed whatever information that alternate source wants to feed you as well.

John Mayer's 2006 song 'Waiting On The World To Change' laid out a cautionary tale in reference to this illusion.  “When you trust your television, what you get is what you got. ‘Cause when they own the information, they can bend it all they want.” He hit the nail on the head.

Take this Sinclair Broadcasting script for example as well. This should concern anyone who watches it. This video has 4.5 million views and took me 10 minutes to find on YouTube while having to sift through mainstream media coverage about this exact video.

3. Social Media Is Now A News Source

Social media has absolutely erupted in popularity over the last decade. It can be a fantastic tool for connecting with loved ones, sharing adorable videos of your pets, and taking your mind off of daily stressors.

Unfortunately, it has also become a threatening source of misinformation and a very easy way to spread fallacy. There has also been a creation of Bots - fake accounts not even run by real humans - that can easily spread whatever information it wants.

So many internet and social media users fall victim to spreading information that may not have even come from real users. Indiana University researched fake news and social media.

The echo chamber absolutely plays a role here as well; if your friends and family share something to their social media account, it is easy to believe it as true. Why would your family member be spreading lies? Sadly, your family member themselves may be entirely unaware that they are spreading incorrect information as well.

Can we hold news sources accountable?

How can we trust anything we see or hear anymore? Cornell University has some tips that may help you get a better grasp on what information you are digesting.

Unfortunately, it seems to be incumbent on the consumers to decide what is good information. There is some hope, with available lists of more trustworthy news sources that still produce factual information. It is a little disheartening that these articles themselves may inspire doubt in those who read them, due to all the reasons I’ve now listed above.

Hopefully, the general public will become more and more aware of these issues, allowing us to combat misinformation and be a more truthfully informed populous.

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