Logging in, Turning bias off
News is more instant and integrated into our lives than ever before, and we have social media to thank for that. Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter hard news articles can be found among the baby photos and funny cat videos.
We’ve seen in recent years how hard it can be to weed out the legitimate online news among the various headlines and links. The web has made it possible for bloggers and everyday citizens to put out content masked as true journalism. In this way, it is up to the readers to be media literate just as much as it is up to us journalists to stay true to our journalistic values.
In Mobile and Social Media Journalism: A Practical Guide we see how the relationship between journalists and readers has evolved. Comments sections and social media make it possible for stories to exist even after you read the final sentence or watch the final sign-off.
I follow some of my favorite journalists that write about the entertainment industry on their personal accounts, where I really get to know their personalities and the persona behind the articles that I read. This allows for me to understand the personal biases and beliefs of some journalists, but this can be a major gray area when it comes to hard news reporters.
Back in 2017, I remember there were multiple stories about journalists being told not to attend the Women’s March as supporters. Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic wrote a memo to his employees saying that the only “political” thing they were allowed to do was vote. Attending the Women’s March, in his eyes, would send a political message and journalists are meant to be impartial.
This is where it gets tricky — as humans we all have beliefs and values that we can’t completely erase when it comes to reporting.
Journalists gaining a following on social media have to be weary of what they post, who they follow, and what they like. All of these things can be taken as support for a cause or a person. But, with the challenge of trying to post things that are on brand yet unbiased, there’s the advantage of being able to easily interact with the audience, allowing them to give their input and let you know what they want to see be covered. Social media is a double edged sword but as we know, the pen is always mightier.