Bias: Left, Right, Center, Fringe, and Citing Snapchat
Several months ago a colleague pointed out a graphic depicting where news fell in terms of political bias. On the chart, the prominent news outlets were placed as right-leaning, left-leaning, center/mainstream, or fringe. It took me a while to determine the origin of the graphic. Within one day of the original post, it had already gone viral and was remade into a “meme fashion” graphic through Imgur. It turns out, the graphic was developed by a patent attorney, Vanessa Otero, and was posted in her blog All Generalizations Are False. Otero offers a blank chart on the blog for use under a Creative Commons license, which requests attribution and should be acceptable for non-commercial use.
What the Kids Are Reading about Bias
Just this month I came across another graphic categorizing news outlets in order of trustworthy to non-trustworthy. This was a story about how to spot fake or biased news found on Snapchat Discover. The story was in a Snapchat first platform called Brother. The stated market for Brother is millennial males. There were some marked differences between the chart by Vanessa Otero and the chart found on Brother. The first major difference was that one chart was somewhat complex and the other was very simple. The second difference was how things were ranked. However, the biggest difference that I recognized immediately were in the rankings. In Otero’s chart news outlets such as NPR were in the center depicting mainstream. And in the Brother graphic, NPR was starting towards the bottom red which represented as less trustworthy.
Am I Biased towards News?
Imagine my surprise when my “go-to” morning news was two outlets away from The Onion on the Snapchat Brother story about recognizing fake news. Sigh… It is hard for librarians to compete with something flashy like Snapchat. My teenage daughter then cautioned me not to overreact. She encouraged me to continue to read the story and not to “freak out.” Why, because she felt the story was pointing out that this chart was at least misrepresenting the original story. So what is the original story? This chart was presenting one side of a poll that was completed by the Morning Consult. If you read the original article you will find that “Fifty-one percent of people said they consider National Public Radio to be credible, but the outlet might be affected by a lack of awareness. Seventeen percent of people said they had never heard of NPR …”
Is Ignorance Bias?
The one thing that I can learn from this is that even librarians should never stop digging for the truth. Never accept things at face value, find the origin of statistics, graphics, memes, and especially social media posts. After all the searching for valid information on this topic, I found the graphic below from the Pew Research Center. Again my preference for daily news was leaning to the “Liberal” side of this chart when my own sense was that this outlet was the least biased.
Get a Snapchat
Finally, if you work as a librarian for high school, middle school, or youth service you might need to be on Snapchat. For nothing else than to read all the Discover articles that are popping up in your patron’s feeds. Some come from the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, National Geographic, along with news outlets like CNN and the Daily Mail. But now there are a few Snapchat-only outlets like Brother. For more on my obsession with Snapchat literacy consult my blog, Librarian Little: The Sky Is Not Falling.