What Is Media Bias? | 5 Questions To Help You Identify Bias in a News Story

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my five years working in media, it’s that journalists are human—flaws and all. And humans, as many researchers argue, are inherently biased.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that every newspaper is unreliable or that every article you read is worthy of a “fake news” label. But even Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists don’t get the facts right all the time, and sometimes, it’s what they don’t say that makes all the difference.

It’s easy to find a news source that seems credible and slip on your rose-colored glasses, content to take their reporting as straight fact. But as consumers of media in the digital age, it’s our responsibility to be diligent and ask questions about our sources—and our sources’ sources. Who’s behind the words you see on the screen? Where did they get their information from? And what lens are they looking at this issue through? (Spoiler alert: It’s not always rosey.)

If you want to be a more informed reader and ensure you’re not being duped by slanted copy, keep reading.

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Opinion | In 2020, Winning Over Young Voters Means Mastering Social Media

The COVID-19 pandemic gave this year’s presidential candidates the opportunity—and the time—to revamp their social media strategies and rally young voters. But did they miss their chance?

The impact of social media on American elections has been front-and-center in pundits’ minds since Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s historic 2018 primary upset, when, according to The New York Times, the then-28-year-old took on fellow Democrat Joseph Crowley for his spot in the House—and won. “The race was not close,” the Times reported curtly.

More tongue-in-cheek commentary from the Times: “The last time Mr. Crowley, 56, even had a primary challenger, in 2004, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was not old enough to vote.”

It didn’t take long for pundits and party leaders alike to take an interest in Ocasio-Cortez’s knack for digital campaigning. While the Times indicated that the now-congresswoman won support from progressives in her district by attacking Crowley’s “role in the leadership, and the fact that he was the head of the local Democratic Party machine,” numerous reports pointed to her social media prowess—and she has maintained a reputation for being something of a Twitter guru. NBC News reported in January 2019:

Less than three weeks after being sworn in as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez already has more Twitter followers than Speaker Nancy Pelosi, more interactions than Barack Obama, one of C-SPAN’s most-watched congressional floor speeches of all time and a ubiquitous nickname that doubles as her Twitter handle — “AOC.”

Indeed, many have taken notice of how naturally AOC interacts with supporters—and critics—online, and it’s quickly become a pillar of her success. “If Cory Booker is pretty good at Instagram as far as politicians go, the vibe’s still sometimes like your Bible study leader is giving you a college campus tour,” BuzzFeed’s Katherine Miller wrote in November 2018, according to NBC. “Ocasio-Cortez uses Instagram like the rest of us do—reflexively, incidentally.”

But it seems not everyone in Washington has AOC’s Instagram instincts.