Opinionated News Channels: The Future of Journalism or a Blackmark on the Practice?
Before printed news, the only way for the masses to get any kind of intel was simply through word of mouth, even though it lasted centuries it was unreliable. The printing press solved this by centralizing the news source and making its mass distribution possible. Nowadays, most people rely on news channels to feed them information either through the internet or through television. Is it better for news channels to give us their opinions or for us to form our own? To explore this question further, here is Perspectoverse’s Arya Pradhan.
Ever since society has had the pleasure of choosing their news source from a plethora of channels, people always tend to watch a particular channel more than the others as they believe their preferred channel is the one that tells them the most accurate news. Although everyone would like to believe that their channel delivers the most accurate news, of course it isn't true. Out of the many national and regional channels across the world there are quite a lot of channels that give fake news or only give half the story in order to paint the subject in good light. There is a faction of people who think these channels are opinionated and biased therefore don’t have credibility and there is another faction who believe opinionated news channels are better for the common man because they eliminate the need for interpretation, allowing the user to make ideal decisions that can benefit everyone. On the surface it looks like both schools of thought make equally good arguments but if we delve a little deeper it will be clear that the first idea is not only more popular but is the best fit for the people.
Sure the idea of having opinionated channels makes a good case. If there are channels that are opinionated they might save us from misinterpreting cold facts that other news channels take pride in. But this idea has an obvious flaw, for a news channel's opinion to be valid their broadcasts have to be vetted by experts in the top of their fields. If this step is not ensured then the decisions of people who follow these channels will solely be based on how another set of regular people who work with the given channel interpret pure facts, which defeats the sole purpose of having these kinds of channels. Not only is this method costly to use effectively but it leaves the channel vulnerable to impositions made by bureaucrats (if an opinionated channel gains a vast following anyone can use their influence for their own personal gain). This isn’t a danger that regular channels are susceptible to as they leave the interpretation to the viewer.
The mere possibility of channels being influenced for political agendas is a red flag that threatens the very core of democracy but this isn't restricted to an idea anymore, we can see the effects of having opinionated channels in modern day society. In the U.S the most popular TV network is Fox News and from their broadcasts during the Trump administration it is evident that this particular network is extremely biased towards Republican ideologies. Fox News isn't the only channel that is biased, MSNBC and BREITBART news both seem to favour the Grand Old Party(GOP). It doesn't stop here, the existence of opinionated channels not only allowed the Republicans to spread their propaganda to the masses but it also led to the criticism of channels that didn't align themselves with the ideas of the ruling party. If we can learn anything from this precedent is the fact that opinionated channels are a blemish on the American ideology of liberty and free speech.
The famous American author Andrew Vacchs once said "Journalism is what maintains democracy. It's the force for progressive social change". It's clear that for a society to progress we have to maintain an ideal democracy, this means everyone should have access to pure facts and should be allowed to make decisions based on how they interpret these facts. It's true that this way may not ensure the best outcome for the people but it’s the most effective and more importantly, the correct way to present news to the masses. In the end opinionated channels can be effective in an ideal society where the press is completely independent from politics but in today's world they're nothing but a stain on journalism and a political tool that can be used to brainwash masses.