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Mass Media: The Real Loser of This Election

Katie Barnes

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On both sides of the recent election, opinions on many issues differ. But the Democrats and Republicans have one thing in common: distrust of the media.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that only 32% of Americans surveyed reported having a great deal of trust in the mass media to report the news fairly. That’s less than half of the country. So, what is the media doing wrong?
First of all, in order to fill a 24-hour news cycle, journalists overanalyze situations without knowing all of the facts. Secondly, almost every news channel has a bias. Whether it is the right leaning tendencies of Fox News or the liberal MSNBC, every TV news organization has a bias. This allows the networks to spin stories in whichever way they want to, causing the real facts of a situation to often get lost as journalists push their own opinions. It also allows people to only see and hear what they want to see and hear, even though the news should not be this way. During this election, left-wing news sources didn’t take Trump seriously and right-wing sources vilified Hillary Clinton, both contributing to the outcome.
Another way the media influenced the election was by failing to fact check Donald Trump. They didn’t take him seriously enough and just accepted his bigoted tirades as fact without correcting him. They let his surrogates avoid every question and blame every problem in this country on the Clintons or President Obama. Saturday Night Live got it exactly right in their sketch where they showed CNN anchors ignoring increasingly problematic things Trump said as they continued to focus on Hillary Clinton’s emails (Which were proven in many FBI investigations to not have breached national security to a significant extent).
Why do they do this? Ratings. The mass media is a business, and sensationalist stories are what people want to watch and share. Videos of Donald Trump saying overtly racist things will be more interesting and will provoke more emotions in viewers than another live feed of a Hillary Clinton rally. And eventually, after seeing video after video of bigoted things Trump says, a person can and will get used to it and think it will be normal.
This is a problem. And there are no clear solutions. However, it is obvious that a good first step is increasing transparency. Giving each candidate equal air time. Providing clear sources for their information. Having voices from both sides of the political spectrum talk the same amount of time. These are good first steps to increasing trust in the media and in politics. But it is up to the news organizations themselves to commit to building trust in their viewers and in America in general.

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Mass Media: The Real Loser of This Election