Perhaps you’ve noticed the growing tendency of media outlets to present themselves as the Zeus on Mount Olympus you should go to for everything – your “most trusted" source.
In the process, some outlets seek to build business by having an editorial viewpoint that guarantees a large, like-minded following. Sometimes the bias is obvious, other times subtle or unintentional.
What concerns me is that we are being convinced to rely on one biased source and exclude other points of view. That is frightening.
No wonder we seem to be more polarized, and less knowledgeable, than ever!
But we can do something about this.
There is nothing wrong with bias, as long as you’re aware of it.
If we don't see the bias, we simply accept the information as fact.
Bad information leads to bad decisions. This is where I go back to Thomas Jefferson's great quote:
"If a people are sufficiently educated and informed, they can rule themselves."
What he didn't say, which is obvious, is “If they are not, they can't.” But I'm concerned that that's where we're going as a nation.
So often, people don't really know exactly what's going on, they just know to repeat what they’ve been told so many times that they believe it in a brain-dead, ditto fashion.
People used to read and openly debate multiple sides of important issues.
Back in the days of the American Revolution, each town received, by horseback, pamphlets from multiple sources on different sides of the issues of the day. People would gather, read the pamphlets, and debate.
In those days, they understood that whoever was writing about the issue had an opinion, had an agenda, or had a bias. They didn't expect somebody else to put it together for them. They didn't trust anybody to do that. So they read more than one viewpoint, or at least they had to debate it with their neighbors.
Before Walter Cronkite, we didn’t have this concept of one unbiased source for news. Though I have remarkable respect for this famous CBS news anchor from the 60’s and 70’s, I think the idea has grown into something negative. If we really want to solve our problems, we need to be willing to look at issues from different perspectives.
No one wants to be tricked into thinking a certain way.
Whether it's the media or an advertisement, a corporation or union, a special interest group or PAC, or even my friends or family, I don’t want to be brainwashed or forced into believing one way. Whether they are doing it intentionally or by mistake, I don’t like it.
I want to have the tools to be able to see the different perspectives and decide for myself.
I want the world to have those tools, because I am absolutely convinced that if regular people have those tools, we can make better decisions.
Reading more than one perspective is as American as 1776.
So how do we make media bias a good thing?
We do this by knowing the bias of what we’re looking at and taking in more than one biased point of view before deciding for ourselves.
With the ability to quickly see multiple takes on an issue at once, clearly seeing the bias of each one, we make bias work for us instead of against us. We put ourselves back in control. And that’s a good thing.
That’s what we’re trying to do with AllSides. We invite your ideas and feedback for making it the most empowering news and information tool you can imagine. Let's take back the power of information together.