Seeking news void of political bias is a very difficult task to undertake these days. Whether one’s preferred news source is television, radio, the internet, a newspaper or something else, it might be tough to sift through the prejudices to find a provider solely supplying the news. Although some may like and agree with the biases that accompany certain news sources, how do people’s political views correlate with the sources they choose?
According to an online survey conducted in 2006 by Harris Interactive which included 1,179 U.S. adults, over six in ten thought that biases in news reporting do exist. The AllSides website rating, which states, “This bias rating refers only to news articles on their website, not from opinion pieces or what is broadcast on TV or radio,” evaluated CNN’s online articles as having center stances.
The same website, which also states, “We don’t use a convoluted mathematical or artificial intelligence model but instead have regular people representing the broad spectrum of Americans blindly rate the bias of articles,” declared Fox News to be a member of the right-wing bias.
Another AllSides rating identifies NBC falling somewhere in between the extreme left-wing bias and a center stance while NPR is located in the middle of the scale.
The Harris Interactive Survey also examined the relationship between a person’s political affiliation and what news channel those individuals viewed on television. Out of the choices of CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS, NBC ranked highest in Democratic viewers and Fox was the leader in a Republican audience. Although the Independent spectrum was a little more varied, CNN proved to be their channel of choice, according to the online survey.
Students at Shepherd seem to be varied on the correlation between their political views and their sources of news as well. Tim Barr, a senior secondary education history major and registered Republican, said that he usually watches NBC in the morning for his news and Fox in the evening simply because he doesn’t enjoy the morning show.
Diana Everhart, a senior English major who identifies as an Independent leaning toward socialist views, usually reads the news on Yahoo but said she would look to CNN for larger issues that needed further investigation.
Bobby Hitte, a sophomore history major who has a Republican affiliation, and Sydney Sharp, a junior political science major who is a registered Independent but tends to agree more with Republican views, both have CNN apps on their phones that they regularly check. Sydney also said that she finds most of her news on Facebook, but she sometimes searches for larger stories on Google.
Chris Bradford, a senior English major who associates with the Democratic Party, normally watches Al-Jazeera America to escape political partiality, but also enjoys MSN, BBC, “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”
Although I personally like reading articles on the NPR website daily, I also seek out as many other sources as possible to form opinions of my own rather than have a news channel form opinions for me. I also rarely watch television news because I believe that reading and seeing opinions rather than viewing and hearing them makes it easier for me to pick out the things I agree with most. Television-watching doesn’t always require active engagement, whereas reading, at least for me, does.
So, is there an identifiable relationship between a person’s political views and what news outlet he or she chooses to get updates from? Maybe, but the results are inconclusive. It is interesting to think about and I theorize that a person’s choice of news outlet is as individualistic as his or her political views.