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Media Bias and the 2016 Presidential Election

Do you know where your favorite news outlets stand on politics or major world issues? Do they align with your party affiliation?

Back in 2014, the Pew Research Center did a study on Americans’ media habits. They plotted major news outlets on a spectrum ranging from strict liberal to strict conservative idealogies. Researchers found that the news consumption varied greatly between the two political sides. The New Yorker and Slate were the two most prominent news sources favored by liberal Americans while Brietbart, Rush Limbaugh Show, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck Program and The Blaze were favored by conservatives. 

Where does your favorite news outlet fall? 


Pew found some significant differences between liberals and conservatives’ news consumption and trust. 


Now let’s take a look at the millennial generation. For a large number of us, this is our first election. Our vote matters this time. Some of us caucused, voted in primaries or neither. No matter your involvement in the election thus far, you’ve definitely been hearing about it, particularly on social media. 

Pew studied our news habits in 2015 and found that we tend to distrust more classical news outlets than our parents do. We instead tend to place our trust in social media and rely on it for our local and world news. When they did the study, Pew researchers identified Facebook as that social media platform we run to in order to stay informed. 

Then there’s Twitter. In 2010, Twitter had only around 10 million monthly active users. In six years, Twitter has added over 300 million monthly active users. Twitter live streamed the first Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton debate of the 2016 election. In the same window, it offered a real time newsfeed comprised of tweets using the hashtag #debates. Twitter has also added elements like Twitter Moments, where you can catch up on daily news and current events. 

This doesn’t mean news media is dying (Sorry, Trump!), it’s just changing. With that change comes new voices, idea and concerns. The concern you should keep in mind in the next month or so before the election is remaining mindful and aware of the news you consume. You must ask yourself what opinions are obviously present here? Is it biased? Is it presenting a well-rounded picture of the event? 

Whether you read articles via social media or seek out specific news sources, stay well informed. Stay cautious about the information you read, watch or listen to. Not everything on the internet is true and neither is everything a news show reports or pokes fun at. Although they try not to, commentators, reporters and writers often cannot remain completely unbiased, especially this late in the election. They have their personal views, and although they work for a seperate entity, they can’t always seperate the two. You are consuming news from another human, after all. 

University of Iowa sophomore majoring in Journalism and Engaged Social Innovation. Member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Hospitality newbie. Reader, writer, and wanderluster. At least that's what I want my business card to say.
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