Everybody has a bias. It’s inescapable. The problem with having a bias and being unaware of it, however, is that it infiltrates the facts and twists them into whatever we think is the most important thing to be gleaned from the story. I wrote an article a few weeks back about why my generation prefers late night shows to actual news, and part of that is because of the obvious bias we see in professional news.
There’s a lot going on in our world, and much of it goes unnoticed or gets blown out of proportion. Recently, we’ve seen reports about the protests in Baltimore, New York, and Boston in response to the death of Freddie Gray. But should we trust news sources, and if so, which ones? Or, should we get our information from the ground, via social media?
A lot of talk has been focused around the ‘violence’ of the protests, labeling it as ‘rioting’. How can we trust that the media is using the correct language when they consistently refuse to label the aftermath of sports fans’ celebratory damage as such? Racism is still playing a part in our use of language. White people can riot and be called ‘revelers’ like their actions acceptable, while black people, protesting the violence of law enforcement, get labeled ‘thugs’ and ‘rioters.’
This is unacceptable. But how can we find out the truth?
Social media has become a big player in uncovering what the media has ignored. Pictures from people inside the “Baltimore Protest” movement have surfaced, showing that only 1% of the protesters (numbering around 10,000 and from all ethnicities and religious walks of life) were violent. While there are always a few people who will use the situation to their advantage, there are thousands more who will clean up the streets, keep their fellow citizens safe, and peacefully demonstrate their desire for change.
I think as time goes on, news will become less and less credible and we will begin to see social media become the forefront of up-to-date news. The 24-hour news cycle will become obsolete as we turn away from looped footage and political bias and get our news from the ground, from people who don’t work for a news station but are taking part in what’s happening.
Our idea of news will change, I think. We will begin to look at things with a more critical eye, not trusting someone to tell us what we should think, but taking part in a discussion and figuring out the truth for ourselves.
In the meantime, what can we do to ensure that we get the most clear picture of current events? How can we stand by our brothers and sisters and show support in the midst of a media cover-up?
We can follow protesters on Twitter. We can reblog their photos on Tumblr. We can educate, we can post links to credible sources on Facebook, and we can take part in the news ourselves. We have a responsibility to our fellow humans to make sure the truth is known, and part of that responsibility is actively involving ourselves in what’s happening around us.Image Credits: Bill Hughes