Answered By Library Staff Last Updated: Jul 18, 2023 Views: 40
This page of our Media Literacy guide has a great definition for Media. Check it out!
For more on bias within the media, see the next tab.
Below are some examples to help us think critically about media.
Keep in mind, many media outlets push out opinion pieces or interview people with agendas, but that does not necessarily mean the outlet holds that opinion or agenda. Authors published in one place may hold a individual, personal biases as well. It is important to know how to identify an opinion piece published, versus a news article or reported piece. Opinion pieces are sometimes labeled or identified as Op-eds, Viewpoints, Commentary, or Editorials depending on the context. Sometimes, outlets have an entire section dedicated to opinion pieces. Other times, the opinion pieces are mixed in, but identified via a label that can be hard to miss, much like sponsored content labels.
Sometimes, the line between commercial/sponsored content (ie content with an agenda -- an agenda to sell you something), is blurred, as highlighted in this episode segment of Last Week Tonight (language warning):
One outlet may even publish articles on a topic that seem to differ or contradict. Here is an example of differing perspectives in one outlet (Vice) that seem to contradict about extremist groups (keep in mind that vegans do not drink milk), but this does not mean they are not a trustworthy source. This means they publish a wide array of viewpoints and perspectives:
This quote is helpful for knowing the difference between bias and agendas:
Personal bias has real impacts. But bias isn’t agenda, and it's agenda that should be your primary concern for quick checks.
Bias is about how people see things; agenda is about what a news or research organization is set up to do. A site that clearly marks opinion columns as opinion, employs dozens of fact-checkers, hires professional reporters, and takes care to be transparent about sources, methods, and conflicts of interest is less likely to be driven by political agenda than a site that does not do these things. And this holds true even if the reporters themselves may have personal bias. Good process and good culture goes a long way to mitigating personal bias.