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Is Unbiased News Possible?

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by Friend of Mara, Aug 1, 2021.

  1. Friend of Mara

    Friend of Mara Active Member

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    At this forum and pretty much every other form of discussion on the internet that involves politics it is very clear that there is a difficult hurdle to overcome. That hurdle is the source of news and information that people consume. People that consume exclusively conservative or exclusively liberal media will often come to very different conclusions. The echo-chamber effect of algorithms and the compounding effect of having to make news "entertaining" rather than "informative" seems to have polarized people in a ways unseen in most of our lifetimes.

    So are we able to make unbiased news? Is unbiased news not taking a side or is it explaining both sides? Does it still need to be entertaining to survive or does the entertainment aspect automatically detract from its capability to inform?

    I think it is possible. I think being entertaining can still be a huge asset without having to be overwhelmed by it. The best news source for world news that I have found actually came from an extremely unlikely source. The channel itself says they fell into it. This is the most recent video. I am interested to see if people think of it as a liberal source or if it seems to be more central.

    I am also very interested in what some of the members here see as both trusted and unbiased. I would personally like to diversify my own news intake to avoid echo chambers but I don't want to just put on Liberty News and digest obviously conservative spins just to counteract any liberal spins that I might watch.

     
  2. Snow White

    Snow White Veteran Member

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    I find that mainstream media is okay if you read about 4 articles from 4 different sources, while applying scrutiny as well as critical thinking.

    For example, articles involving crimes are particularly murky. Oftentimes, the article doesn't make a whole lot of sense as to what actually happened, in its description, especially when the whole article is based on one or two eyewitness accounts. So it's good to apply scrutiny to the specifics of the incident.
     
  3. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    Is Unbiased News Possible?

    No, not really. Even that there are 2 sides could be a bias. Left and right is a bias in some cases. In practice you can try to present as many different point of views, but there is a dilemma. If tolerant how do you treat the intolerant and is tolerance also a form of bias?
     
  4. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue Twilight, not bright nor dark, good nor bad.

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    Even the stable news sources like Reuters and AP seems to be developing a bias from time to time.
     
  5. Twilight Hue

    Twilight Hue Twilight, not bright nor dark, good nor bad.

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    It's why the Fairness Doctrine was so beneficial.

    Shows what happens when one let's go of balanced reporting.

    Journalistic integrity is but a shallow quality of what it was meant to be.

    News agencies just don't care anymore.
     
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  6. Friend of Mara

    Friend of Mara Active Member

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    This is often a difficult question. A logical answer is to have strict fact checking. But then that also means someone has to be in charge of what "facts" are. This can be dubious if we have corrupt systems.

    A great example in our current system is how well funded studies can be implemented to show what they "want" to show. Then they can get the politicians whom they have already bought to implement policy based on those same studies that were intentionally clouded. Broader scientific communities that have their currency based in credibility are often very good at being as close to factually correct as the data allows. But giving them the power to subvert others would mean removing their dependency on credibility. A well informed and intelligent population would be needed for such a system to work and ....well you have seen the population of the world.
     
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  7. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    Strictly, no, every source may have bias, or at least a point of view that is partial or not wholly objective. Any historian knows this.

    What the historian does - and what we should do - is consult a range of sources we have found to be reliable in the past and which have a reputation for reliability. In that way we can fairly quickly establish whether particular stories are true or what elements of truth they may contain, albeit in distorted or partial form.

    In the UK there is a formal obligation on broadcasters to ensure their news content is balanced. It's not an exact science obviously, but it does help prevent the sort of blatantly slanted news reporting one sees in the USA. We do in fact have a new news channel which is trying out a Fox-style far right culture war approach to news. So far it is a dismal failure (we don't really do culture war much in the UK), but it will be interesting to see at what point the broadcasting regulator (Ofcom) steps in.
     
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  8. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    No, all news media is subject to numerous biases.

    1. What stories to feature and in what order - this impacts our ideas about what is important

    2. Framing of stories (both words and images), George Floyd protests were a great example of this:

    "Mostly peaceful protest"
    "Night of rioting and looting"

    Both frames are factually true, yet impact how the story is received significantly.

    Liberal media choosing to adopt 'mostly peaceful' was an overtly political act. Most political violence occurs as part of mostly peaceful' protests, but that has never been how it has been reported in the past. Supporters would say that it was a fairer representation, opponents would say it was partisan spin from agenda driven media outlets.

    There can't be an 'unbiased' adjudication between these points of view.

    3. Selecting experts to comment. Experts are not necessarily neutral, but you can rarely give time to more than one or two and selection is a subjective process with potentially big consequences. This can never be an unbiased process.

    Being neutral in reporting obvious untruths is not 'unbiased' though. A neutral media would have been a great blessing to Trump who would have dominated coverage to his benefit.

    The idea that presenting opposing opinions is 'balanced' is also untrue.

    There are usually more than 2 sides to any issue. Opposing views tend to highlight conflict and are often not representative of the majority of people on the issue.

    Fact checking is not an unbiased activity though as many 'facts' are shades of grey. Also you don't need to lie to mislead people, just selectively present the facts.

    "Fact checking" for these omissions is subject to bias too. Someone needs to decide what they 'should' have included in any comments, and given many media comments are quite brief and necessitate omissions this is mostly personal opinion.


    While news can be more biased or less biased, it will always have a significant degree of subjective input that influences those who consume it.
     
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  9. Mock Turtle

    Mock Turtle Silent Generation - so don't expect much
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    So your solution to such would be?
     
  10. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    I would argue that there is no unbiased news source. It is possible for news to be based on factual events, however.
     
  11. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    The way I see it, the problem with such studies is not that they're intrinsically inaccurate or false - although they can be - but that the prevalence of such studies tends to create false impressions among the public about the scientific consensus on a subject.

    The best example would be the kind of research funded by tobacco companies: Very few of these studies outright say that smoking isn't harmful; rather, what they would often study was other harmful effects on the human body, other ways for humans to get lung or throat cancer - therefore creating the false impression that smoking was a negligible cause of these health risks compared to other factors, even though none of these papers actually came out to say this explicitly.

    This is what corporations tend to do: They swamp the existing scientific consensus with corporate research papers that make it harder for people to discern a scientific valid picture of the world, creating a window for truly biased propaganda to move in and turn public opinion at a point when people have been thoroughly confused over the subject matter.
     
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  12. Hermit Philosopher

    Hermit Philosopher Selflessly here for you

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    Dear Friend of Mara,

    Objectivity is somewhat of a questionable concept. Instead, I go for sources that provide as many sides to an issue as possible.

    Mind you, it does make taking a stand regarding any problem, much more difficult…


    Humbly
    Hermit
     
  13. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Rival's Creepy Uncle
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    Unbias is impossible.
    When we think some source is unbiased,
    it's only because we share biases.
     
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  14. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Consume as little daily news media as possible ;)
     
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  15. Friend of Mara

    Friend of Mara Active Member

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    I know many of you said a variety of things but my response would seem to be the same.

    The bias with intent of propaganda in the US right now as well as the entertainment style echo chambers of algorithms seem to be inherently different than simply having bias. Do you all think there is a degree change that we could feasibly attempt to get too? We can obviously become less biased if not bias free.
     
  16. Friend of Mara

    Friend of Mara Active Member

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    From your first post I thought you were simply saying to choose your biases and get those news sources which seemed to be the worst possible decision till I saw the second post where you advocate for...ignorance? I may be misunderstanding your post and I don't mean to sound insulting if I have.
     
  17. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Rival's Creepy Uncle
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    Bias can certainly be addressed, & reduced in
    areas where it's dysfunctional, eg, oozing with
    demonization, ignoring salient facts.
     
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  18. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    These echo chambers exist because they are profitable - or at least, our corporate masters think they are profitable.
    There is nothing that compels media to seek accuracy, objectivity, or even plain facticity in their content; what factually compels them is the profit-seeking motive, meaning that the shape of your current media landscape is motivated by the desire to minimize costs and maximize revenue, not by maximizing facticity and accuracy.

    As long as we remain in an economic landscape where the value of content is orthogonal to its accuracy and facticity, those economic pressures will remain, and they will continue to deteriorate the ability and motivation of journalists to produce factual and accurate news.
     
  19. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    It's not about ignorance, but being well informed.

    Knowledge is 2 things, but most people only think of the first:

    1. Gaining accurate information
    2. Not gaining inaccurate information

    The more daily news you consume, the more inaccurate information you will be exposed to, and the more inaccurate information you will absorb as 'true'.

    No matter how 'balanced' and 'critical' we try to be, we will still absorb large amounts of inaccurate information. We don't need to choose to believe something (as many people assume), information we process is generally processed as being 'true' unless we consciously reject it and we simply don't have the information of cognitive power to do this consistently.

    Importantly, it is not simply bias or deliberate misinformation that causes this. A perfectly objective news source would still be a major source of misinformation as that is the nature of fast news cycles.

    Watch breaking news on any major incident, take notes and see how much actually turns out true in hindsight. Or think of all the breaking covid stories and how many have been wrong. Or most of the news that involved Trump for 4 years.

    The best filter for this is time, so avoiding daily news media is avoiding one of the most inaccurate sources of information.

    Most of it is trivia anyway, anything important you'll find out organically. Use the time saved to consume higher quality sources.
     
  20. Friend of Mara

    Friend of Mara Active Member

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    I can agree to most televised news sources for sure. But what in your mind is the best source of information?
     
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