It is my belief that there has never been more distrust by the American public in traditional media outlets than there is today. The political right is angry because they believe that the media is made up of liberals who are putting false spins on stories and people on the left are mad because almost every major news outlet gave Trump far too much free media and got the predictions of the 2016 Presidential race wrong.
We can probably all agree that cable news shows are slanted one way or the other. Add to that a growing population of the world getting their information from Facebook, which is inundated with fake news publishers. To get past our distrust of mainstream media the easiest thing may be to no longer consume it. However, here is what I honestly think. We have gotten lazy and we just want to read headlines and look at photos.
When I was growing up in the 80s, my parents generations had a couple of newspapers, some AM radio, maybe a magazine or two and 3-4 channels with the 6 pm news. Since there were so little options they trusted what they got, good or bad. I clearly remember sitting with my father in our home on Long Island, NY, cross legged on the carpet in front of our TV, which by the way only had 13 channels. I had to be quiet while playing from 6:30-7:00 so that he could listen to what Dan Rather told him about the world. My dad trusted Dan Rather and that was that. For better or worse those days are long gone.
Today, we no longer have the luxury of trusting a source just because they are a source. That goes for the big guys The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CBS, NBC, ABC and all the rest. If you want the truth you must gather your own information from multiple sources and figure out what you believe. Here are some tips to help you on your journey in this bold new world.
Yes, we are all part of the problem. We see a headline that we agree with or that has a snazzy photo and we just hit share, without reading the entire thing. When we do this we are adding to the misinformation that exists in the world.
Most people in business follow reporters in niche areas of focus in their industries. These people are typically hard working journalists who are passionate about putting forward unbiased content. When I worked in healthcare for almost a decade it was great sites like MedCity News and Becker’s Hospital Review. That is why I sought out those publishers to guest write and blog for. In my current career in the technology sector I am taking the same approach. The website ReadWrite is a great place to start to emerge yourself in everything that there is to know about Smart Cities.
LinkedIn in general is a great source of information. There is great information everywhere, whether it is posts in the newsfeed from Niche sites or original content posted in LinkedIn Pulse. You could spend days on Pulse. Make sure that you follow specific leaders and channels to get first hand accounts of how they view things in niche and global areas.
If you love a news outlet that is great, consume it as much as you like. But don’t be blind to the fact that the heads of that organization are running a business based on numbers and projections of who their core audiences are. This greatly affects the slant and spin of the content that you will consume.
Not all in the mass media are bad. In fact a lot of journalists are some of the hardest working folks you will meet. A family friend Peter McCarthey is a City Editor at The Frederick News-Post. Robert Costa is a fellow alumni of Pennsbury High School, and in my opinion is the best political reporter that the Washington Post could ever have. A former co-worker’s husband Matt Katz is a great political author and reporter at WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio. You don’t have to know someone to tell that they are a straight shooter. Start consuming their work and find out for yourself.
As a writer this might sound as strange advice, but a great way to regain trust is to explore new mediums other than print. Medium is an outstanding blogging platform that is always growing in popularity. Vlogs and podcasts are also great places to get information. Facebook live is turning every single person into a roving reporter today.
Remember, it is easy to make blanket statements like, I don’t trust the media. However, it also may be a chance to look at what channels you are consuming and ask yourself why.
James is the Marketing Director at StratIS. He was named Top Voice on LinkedIn in 2015, and the number two voice in healthcare from more than 2 million bloggers on the platform. He was the creator of the Seinfeld Birthday Project, which went internationally viral, received more than 1 million YouTube views, and was featured in hundreds of newspapers, blogs, TV shows and radio programs. He also co-founded TAP Social Media, a boutique-marketing agency located in Philadelphia, PA. James holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.