Students should practice awareness, caution when consuming media

Reading through countless articles and opinions can be headache-inducing and often leaves you more confused than before. When scouring the internet for news, whether that be celebrity gossip or political debates, be skeptical of what is written and keep a keen eye on biases from each source. 

Some media outlets make their biases relatively clear, especially when it comes to politics. Sources such as Fox News and The New York Times are prime examples of leaning toward a certain political perspective, especially in their stances on certain subjects. When reading articles from professional publications, such as the ones listed above, take note of any opinion trends throughout the articles Remember, writers tend to have their own biases, even when a story is purely factual–after all, a narrative is created in the inclusion and exclusion of certain facts.

Furthermore, always be mindful of who is writing the article. Reading articles written by the same author gives a reader insight into possible bias, and it wouldn’t hurt to research their background as well. Awareness of writer and publication bias is absolutely essential when receiving information, as readers should consider a myriad of other possible viewpoints before taking an educated stance on any issue. 

While there are a number of sources to gather information from, whether they’re in the form of social media or online journals, claims and opinions may not be supported by solid evidence, especially when they don’t appear in a professional publication. Vague terms such as “many people” or “many studies demonstrate” are not trustworthy on their own: follow up on all listed sources and consider any potential drawbacks to those supporting facts and figures. For instance, ask the questions, ‘Who reported that survey, and what were the demographics?’ When mentioned in an article, statistics and reports may seem verified, but it never hurts to do more research: facts can easily be twisted in order to favor a writer’s argument. 

When exploring news outlets, read more than one article from multiple sources in order to receive the most well-rounded, unbiased information possible on a certain topic. Don’t be shy to dive further into these subjects, but remember that articles, facts and statistics can often be misleading. At the end of the day, it’s your duty to form educated personal opinions based on the media you consume.