Media influences our daily decisions. Our lives are constantly being driven by what we see and what we hear. Media is a source of information, and if people agree with what they hear, they are more likely to be subject to “conformation bias.”
In our day and age, news is mainly communicated through the Internet. For most college students and young adults, news is found through social media. With the innovation of new media outlets, the stakes have been raised for journalists as well as big media corporations. If the cover photo or headline of your story doesn’t catch the eye of someone immediately, they will keep scrolling until they find something better. Because of this, the media increases their audience by effectively incorporating many biases, such as commercial, visual, and narrative biases. This often results in more engagement from the public, but leads to the public being more misinformed.
As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, a video popped up on my news feed. It was a 30-second video on how to make cinnamon rolls by this Facebook page called “Tasty.” I was later shown this video by three of my other friends that day. This page has over 22,000,000 likes. The reason why so many people like these “Tasty” videos is because they are fast. The videos get to the point in under a minute. Because so many young people like to be told information in a fast and creative way, they will watch these cooking videos over reading an article.
So, when these young social media users do pay attention to news, they will most likely only pay attention to sights that summarize, or organize information in lists, such as “10 things that…” or “you know when you’re… when…” While these sights might be a fast and creative way to receive information, viewers are most likely missing out on all the facts. However, due to “conformation bias,” once one finds a site they like, or one that has the same views as them, they are unlikely to read or listen to other resources.
In addition, in politics, news and media play an important role in influencing the people and their opinion, therefore influencing whom they may vote for in an election. It is well known that the common bias of conservative newscasts such as Fox News leans in favor of the republicans, or that MSNBC News tends to be more liberal. So, in the case of “conformation bias” republicans might watch FOX News more in order have their opinions and beliefs reinforced.
Now that we know these biases exist, it is important to recognize how media influences our options and decisions to make sure we are aware of what media sites we pay attention to and what information we might be missing out on. I encourage all of you to identify your conformation biases and then reach out to more than one site as a source of information. Don’t just rely on the most creative and interesting sites that feed your attention, but strive to receive information from a variety of media outlets.