Investigating the accuracy of national news sources that the AHS community relies on
From the phone in the palm of your hand to the billboard alongside the freeway you’re driving on, information can be found everywhere these days. In the midst of such a wide variety of sources, how do we know which sources to use and trust? Students, parents, and staff at American High School have relied on many different news sources to stay updated about current events.
A survey aimed at determining the most popular news sources among the AHS community found that CNN takes the lead, with a total of 55.6% of respondents indicating that they use CNN to stay informed. This brings up the natural question: how factual and accurate is CNN’s reporting?
“Inevitably, CNN, like most news outlets, is biased because it is a corporation that seeks to get high ratings and be profitable,” said Jeffrey Liu (11), who actively stays updated on the news. “The headlines that make it to the viewer will be the most shocking and attention-grabbing, so it’s easy to miss the actual state of events.” In addition, he adds, “CNN also tends to have a normalcy bias, in which they try to rationalize the current hyperpartisan political atmosphere. This, in effect, makes true outliers seem normal, which sets a dangerous precedent.”
What may seem surprising is that the most popular news source after CNN is not a commercial news outlet. Instead, it is social media, with 46.6% of respondents saying that they rely on social media as one of their methods of receiving news.
“Social media is one of my preferred methods of getting news because information on the net is spread more quickly than on other traditional forms of news, [such as] T.V., radio, and newspapers,” said Ivan Ko (10). Specifically, he uses memes as one way to understand current news. “One meme that gave me some of the news was a deep-fried Donald Trump Twitter meme. It was captioned ‘Be afraid North Korea! This is what you’re messing with,’ referring to a picture of a wall of Minecraft TNT. This meme informed me of how hostile the current America vs. North Korea situation was [and] that our foreign policy wasn’t doing too well in the east.”
Social media, especially memes, may seem like an unconventional method of receiving news, and it is understandable that some may have doubts about the legitimacy of information presented on these platforms. However, Ko objects.
“I think that memes do provide a certain level of credibility in delivering the news. As most good memes nowadays are structured to provide jokes that reference current events, they have to be accurate,” Ko explained. “Otherwise, the comedic value in the meme would decrease.”
In contrast, Liu offers a more skeptical perspective of the news presented by media in general.
“I do think it is easy to let your guard down and inadvertently let news outlets color your view,” he explained. “Knowing this, I try to get the most accurate information by looking at a variety of sources and the cold, hard numbers when they’re available.”
Caption: CNN and social media are the two most popular sources from which the AHS community receives its news, but these sources may contain bias and inaccuracy. “The media are supposed to be reputable sources with significant authority…however, it’s crucial to think critically about news coverage because there will always be some sort of bias, intentional or not,” said Liu.