The Importance of Finding Trusted Voices
in the New Era
With more and more channels of communication, and more and more people sharing their voices online, it’s only natural that opinions become mixed with fact. As the issues of our world become ever more complex, each and every person has a duty to be as well-informed as they can. But who has the time or energy to sort through the misinformation and discover the nuggets of truth themselves? That’s why finding trusted voices in the cacophony will become increasingly important.
A few rules of thumb
It more important than ever to sample a selection of trusted voices that span the political spectrum.
Know the bias of the channel (they all have some bias) and account for it when considering their presentation.
If they refuse to let guests with certain opinions speak, consider carefully how much to trust their views.
I remember a time that feels like the dark ages now. Growing up in rural Canada in the 1970s we had one television channel, which was the CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The only other chance we had for an alternate opinion on the news was the local newspaper.
For my parents, that lasted until well after I left home and they finally got a satellite dish. By this time western world was full of news options and CNN had established itself as the news source to go to if you wanted something other than BBC.
An then the millenium changed and everything with it. There wasn’t one moment when I lost faith in the mainstream media, but I do remember a series of events during the turn of the century that revolved around a particular conflict.
The Iraq war introduced ’embedded journalists’. These were journalists favoured by the Allied governement with special scoops regarding the war (read: propaganda). This already set off warning bells for me, but when they started presenting news stories I knew (from inside sources) to be fake, my faith was destroyed.
Since that time, around 2003, media bias has only gotten more obvious and more blatant. The mainstream media has even fallen to petty bickering and whining about celebrities and public figures. The latest, but certainly not the last, example being the blustering nonsense of a CNN anchor responding to an internet meme of president Donald Trump. Accusations of ‘fake news’ leveled at the mainstream providers are not entirely wrong.
Given that the corporate ‘mainstream’ media is fighting its own battle for survival in the rapidly changing times, it’s not surprising they lead with the easy targets that are guarenteed to rile their audiences. And who is challening the corporate media? Who are they reacting to? The new independents, many who have more viewers per episode that stations like CNN could ever hope to pull in.
These independents are the new source of investigative journalism. They’re the stations still small enough they can afford to present real news. But not all of them are good. So, which independent news and views shows should you watch?
Well, that depends on your preference. But I can offer a few considerations that I believe are important when choosing a trusted voice among the new media.
7 CRITERIA FOR A TRUSTED VOICE
- discussion stays close to the issue
- avoids use of common fallacies
- will invite opponents to fair discussion
- seeks to understand opposing view
- attacks ideas of people, not people themselves
- gives credit to opponents when they’re correct
- is honest about any political agenda
“It’s not so much about finding others with similar beliefs as it is about finding those you can trust to reasonably represent the concerns of both sides of an issue.”
A few (more) personal thoughts
Everyone has their personal preferences both in style of presentation, content, and types of guests. Because of this, I decided not to list some of the channels I follow, but instead, to offer a few further thoughts.
- Minimize the amount of mainstream news you watch. Most of these channels get their news from the same source so it’s pointless to sample from more than one. Similarly, they all first serve either corporate or political interests and so will not give a fair or reasonable presentation for the opposing position. This has become increasingly true in recent years.
- Ensure the channels you follow make you aware of opposing viewpoints in a fair and reasonable manner.
- Attempt to sample from media around the world to minimize geographical bias. In the West, we see very little of African or South American news, nevermind their perspective. Likewise, while we hear more about China and India, it’s seldom from the perspective of the people living there.
Do you watch the mainstream news? Do you watch any independent political or news channels? Which ones? How do you screen against, or compensate for, political bias? I’d love to hear your thought, you can join the conversation on my Facebook Page.