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Keeping Your News Balanced

August 28, 2013

As a news consumer in the age of social media, it is important to make sure you’re getting the ‘real news.’ In a world of RSS feeds, Twitter and for-profit news agencies, it’s easy to get your news a la carte style and simply pick and choose what you want to read. And, although it may be the news that you agree with or the news that you want to hear, it’s often not the full story.

On a weekly basis on this blog, I will examine how stories are portrayed through the media depending on the source. For example, an article may give a different vibe to the reader if it comes from The Huffington Post or from the Drudge Report.  A news story may sound one way if you watch Fox & Friends as opposed to watching The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. Just from a quick check of the websites shows their opposite view points. Fox & Friends encourages you to read a book which outlines the reasons why President Barack Obama should be impeached. Rachel Maddow shows you a video about why Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner is bad at his job.

This news does not strictly have to be political, either. Looking at the Health section for both FOX News and MSNBC, there are stories that seem to be appealing to one biased view or another. FOX News talks about the downfalls of Obamacare, whereas MSNBC has a story about an abortion clinic in Kansas which finally was allowed to air its own radio commercial.

Even without coming straight out and blatantly giving only one side of the story, these news outlets direct their viewers towards stories that they want to hear.

And, don’t think it’s just FOX News and MSNBC. They’re just the most obvious, and the ones who will be picked on today. There are sites, such as NewsBalance, which act almost as a RSS feed and allow you to select if you want to read conservative or liberal news as well as if you want the news to be about government, energy or transportation, just to name a few.

People seem to shy away from news they don’t want to hear simply because they don’t want to hear it. Harvard professors Edward Glaeser and Cass Sunstein note in an excerpt from their writing ‘Why Does Balanced News Produce Unbalanced Views?’ that an individual with solid personal beliefs who is exposed to balanced news will either believe it is true if that news is consistent with their beliefs, or will believe any contradictory news to be false.

It’s always important to keep an open mind when reading the news. On this blog, I will provide weekly examples of just how important it is to be balanced with your news consumption. You just never know what you might be missing..

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