Is The News Trustworthy? How News Sources Stretch The Truth For Views

Art Courtesy of kciiradio.com

Maira Khurana, Staff Writer

We live in an era of chaos. COVID-19 is quickly trapping us, climate change is breathing down our necks, and the political climate grows more frenzied with each coming month. Hysteria is increasing, and the news is doing nothing to stop it. In fact, the news is only accelerating it. How many of us have opened up the news app on our phones or scrolled through our Twitter feed and found dozens of headlines proclaiming a new armageddon? Reporters often blow situations out of proportion to create a more interesting story. Even if we are not seeking it out, the news comes to us involuntarily when we visit websites or social media. How did news become like this, and how is it affecting us? 

         The problem seems to lie in a very simple fact: the news industry’s primary goal is to make money. Whether it’s through eye-catching titles, scandal, or excessive yelling on the TV, news channels and companies want to get our attention and keep it. This used to be easier back when we didn’t have cell phones that provided constant entertainment. People used to seek out more news stories because the public had less access to information. However, in the age of the Internet, our attention span is divided. Why read the news when you can just as easily access every movie, show, or YouTube video ever made? In response to this, news articles have had to be just as dramatic to catch our eye. Maybe you won’t react to the election itself, but you’ll certainly react to “the untold truth of Joe Biden’s wife.” 

          The other problem is that news is presented to us like an entertainment source. In an odd way, news has become a lot like YouTube. On Apple News, there’s a trending tab; you can follow certain channels, and they suggest articles to you based on an algorithm. It takes note of your search history and what you’re following and recommends articles that it thinks that you will read. That’s probably the worst thing that could happen to the news, because it means that there is a certain bias in the content one consumes. Targeted news is not real news; it’s a marketing tactic to keep you on an app for longer and help news channels get as many clicks as possible. 

            On TV, news is delivered in a dramatic  manner. Long gone is the era of calmly breaking hard news to people. Instead, they slam red graphics with all-caps “BREAKING NEWS” into the center of the screen, aided by the loud music that we all know and love. Rest assured that after every debate in this election, every single major news channel will discuss in great detail the candidates and analyze their every word.

           If the major news sources exaggerate everything for clicks and watch time, and smaller news articles are marketed to us based on our search history, then what news sources can we trust? Therein lies the dilemma. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify a trustworthy source, and it takes a ridiculous amount of effort to fact-check every article and video. So what are some sources that people around us consider trustworthy? 

           Olivia Melson, ‘21, trusts BBC, the New York Times, and CNN. She says she trusts them because they “follow the guidelines for if the source is credible. They’re generally reputable and [you] can see the author of the article and their sources.” 

She mostly gathers her news through articles and Twitter headlines. 

Olivia Smith, ‘21, trusts MSNBC and the Huffington Post. She trusts them because they haven’t had a scandal since Matt Lauer. She watches Cable News to remain updated on current events. 

          Ahlaam Abdulwali, ‘21, trusts NPR and CNN (to a degree), because they relay factual information without bias. She feels that news has changed in recent years, becoming more polarizing and less trustworthy. She noted that sources are choosing specific information that constructs the story that they wish to portray and do not display things factually. 

          Are these students correct? One cannot say with certainty, but perhaps they are. The important thing to keep in mind, no matter where you get your news from, is that your news may not be so trustworthy. So don’t rely on it. Always remain critical of the facts you are given. It is important to pay attention to the source, the author, and any information referenced. The line between fake news and propaganda is scarily thin, and the last thing we want is for it to become any thinner.