Afternoon Inqueery

AI: News Media

Since the Olympics started, I’ve been avoiding certain areas of the internet as much as possible, namely news websites and social media. (I await my gold medal in Fun Ruining with glee.) What started out as a quest to avoid getting annoyed as much as possible has turned into a quest to break the habit of constantly checking those sites. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the media and how it reports on current events.
I’ve been primarily using the BBC News website for the last few years – that’s a reliable, relatively non-biased source, right? I certainly took that for granted until recently, when the BBC spectacularly failed to report on the true nature of the recently (and regrettably) passed Health and Social Care Bill, which will essentially pull the NHS apart to be sold to the highest bidder – in fact, it barely reported on it at all. This got me wondering if there is such a thing as a completely non-biased news source. Ever since I’ve been on the lookout for a better place to find out about what’s happening in the world.
I’ve also been increasingly finding out about breaking news via social media (then checking them against traditional outlets) and reading blogs, though these clearly have problems of their own. Poor science reporting is a problem even for sources that are otherwise relatively sound. Since Independent columnist Johann Hari was suspended for plagiarism and Wikipedia vandalism, I’ve been wary of that form of journalism too.  Even when I discover decent sources of information, the news is so unrelentingly terrible that I start to see the appeal of remaining ignorant.
Where do you get most of your news from – is it in print, online or another form? Do you seek out non-biased news sources or more politically charged ones?
The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, at 3pm ET.
(Featured image by Karen Mardahl on Flickr)

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Courtney is a theoretical physics student at Imperial College London, broadly identifying as cisfemale, panromantic, asexual and atheist. She lives with mental illness (worst room-mate ever) and hopes to help break down the stigma attached to admitting that. Her hobbies include campaigning, internetting and spectacularly failing to defy any stereotypes regarding British people and tea. She also identifies as an X-Phile/Browncoat/Whovian, which are clearly the most important things.


  1. August 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm —

    Generally I get most of my news from the Skepchick network, NeuroLogica, Sociological Images, Scishow, and my grandma (for political news). So generally the news I get is mostly about science-y stuff, and a bit about politics and sociological stuff. I don’t really follow any news blogs, read newspapers or watch the news; I figure if I don’t hear about stuff through word of mouth or on one of the blogs/vlogs I follow, it didn’t matter that much. Maybe that’s a bad philosophy, but I feel generally well-informed.

  2. August 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm —

    I get my news from a variety of sources, primarily online. My RSS feed gives me primarily opinionated news and blogs. I have conservative, libertarian, and progressive feeds that I go though – although there’s a progressive bias, given my interest in social issues.

    I read CNN and the local Austin-American Statesmen web site for more regular news.

  3. August 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm —

    First of all, I’ve come to believe that there simply are no unbiased sources. Everyone has an axe to grind (even Wikipedia, with its strong neutrality policy, came out against SOPA/PIPA, as its existence would be threatened under those bills). Every corporation is corruptible. It’s easier to find individuals who place a high value on truth and honesty, but there will always be a subtle bias in what’s reported versus what isn’t.

    Add to that the problem that one person’s “biased” is another person’s “neutral.” Everyone considers themself to have the sane and reasonable position, and so they then see everyone who differs as having a bias in some way.

    As for the question asked here, I get most of my news through blogs I read, mostly from people who I trust to be honest about things (I look for things like a willingness to publicly correct themselves when they’ve been wrong in the past). I don’t worry about bias so much as I worry about honesty (which includes both not lying and not being deceptive with which stories are run). After all, what I see as “unbiased,” many others would see as horribly biased.

  4. August 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm —

    I have about fifteen blogs I check every day, maybe forty or so I skim once or twice a week. This is mostly just for opinions and “news”. I read one newspaper on my lunch break and another over dinner. I also listen to podcasts as I drive to and from work. As a general rule I treat all of those sources as complete hear-say and gossip, but they do alert me to the major goings on of the world.

  5. August 10, 2012 at 8:30 am —

    I’m Greek. I get my news from many greek sources:

    A high-quality leftist radio station.
    2 tv-stations: One presents the centrist view and the other the neoliberal view.
    2 websites: A leftist website and a extreme right-wing neonazi website!

    So, largely getting most views of the political spectrum i make up my own mind on what’s happening in Greece and what’s happening in the world.

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