Let’s say on some metric Fox is 50 points to the right of NBC. How can we tell, then, if NBC is 0 and Fox is +50 (where more positive = more conservative I guess) or NBC is -25 and Fox is +25?
I guess media scholars would study this. This chart seems well-researched, at least at a glance. Also, pulls out the distinction between bias and truthfulness. (You can be leftist or rightist and still write true things, or fair interpretations of events. Also, you could be ideologically neutral and just write garbage.)
But if we don’t listen to people who are doing this, then we’re in a very game-able situation. If we want our news to be “fair and balanced” without deeply looking into what that means, it’s really easy for one side to move the goalposts and then expect everyone to move to the new center. (Similarly in the political world. But let’s stick with the news for now.)
It’s even worse, though!
We all know polarization is rewarded by the Facebooks of the world, because it feeds anger and gets clicks. So there’s not only no stop against Fox going full-reactionary (or indeed, CNN going full-leftist), but there are forces pushing them in that direction. I don’t know why we shouldn’t expect 2020 to be as influenced by Russian trolls as 2016 was. Anger still feels good (see the anger article linked earlier.) And potential consequences for this ongoing interference are really quite dire.
One hope: ad money drying up?
It’s harder to fund things with ads than it used to be, I guess. But waiting for that feels like waiting for all our oil to run out before we get renewables. What can we, who are not Zuckerberg or Murdoch, do in the meantime? Beats me.
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