Whether you use it to stay updated on current events, learn of what is happening in the world around you, or just use it to pass the time, the news is a very important and essential part of our lives. Without the news, we all would be clueless of the world around us and we wouldn’t be able to act accurately when making our decisions, especially in a democracy like the United States, where we, the American public, have the power to vote and make decisions on how to run our own country. This makes it very important that we choose good and reliable news sources to get all our information, from politics to crimes to local community leaders. Most people get their news through cable news networks. Now with the major surge on the internet, people get most their news through cable news websites. There are many things to consider when choosing a cable news network website to trust but some criteria may be more relevant in evaluating a cable news website than others.
Clearly, when establishing criteria to evaluate ANY type of news source, bias should be the number one thing someone should look out for. It is normal to write with some sort of slant but this should be kept to a minimum. According to the LAMPLit on “A Guide to Understanding the News and Making Good Choices,” the purpose of the media and press is to inform us of what is happening around us so that we can then critique and make our own decisions on the subject matter. If the media begins to add bias and people begin to read it as unbiased, their decisions and evaluations of what is being covered will most likely be similar, if not the same, to the one the article is written or read in. Biased news tends to leave out information or emphasize certain parts of the story to influence what the reader gets out of it. It’s a form of mind manipulation that can be very very costly to a democracy, like ours, where most of the information we receive and decisions we make comes from comes from these sources.
Similarly, the amount of time and money each news network spends on reporting and researching a certain news story is also useful to know. The more commitment is spent on looking for news, the more reliable the source should be. Many news stories can be made quickly and very sloppily. These stories can leave out handfuls of information and even spread in-accurate stories. This obviously can make stories unreliable and even biased (which can be very harmful in ways explained above). In contrast, when a story is patiently researched and has been thoroughly checked, we can expect a more qualitative news report. This report will be more informative, more accurate, and more dependable than a rushed ones. When making a decision on some topic, it is always best to be well informed. One little detail can change a story from one point-of-view to another in the blink of an eye.
While researching cable news networks, I ran across an article that gave me an idea of an unusual yet useful criterion when evaluating a network. When reading “5 facts about Fox News” from the PewResearchCenter, I thought: why not evaluate the networks through viewership? Now, when I speak of this criterion, I do not intend it to be a popularity contest. When I say, “evaluating viewership,” I mean who is reading these posts and what kind of people are they? If a certain group, like liberals or conservatives, make up most of a cable news networks’ viewership then we can suppose that they only show news with bias that agrees to that specific group. On the other hand, if we have a news network where a wide variety of people get their news from, then we can infer that the news is of good quality and from a fairly neutral stand-point. Any place where two or more completely different ideologies can be content with the news they receive, then the more relevant, reliable, and unbiased the source should be.
When it comes to getting our news, we should all be well informed and try to get the best information. For the most part, this is where we get all the knowledge we have to make good decisions for the democracy we live in so, why not invest a bit more time in researching where we get our news from. Throughout my research in cable news network websites, I have found three criteria that can be useful to evaluate them: bias, spending on stories, and their audiences. They all are important factors to look at when choosing a network to trust. When choosing, you want to find an unbiased network, that spends time and money in developing a good news story, that also attract the attention of a wide variety of groups and ideologies. Follow these guidelines to an accurate source and you will find a good outlet for all your news!