Is News Untrustworthy?

While reading chapter two of the textbook, I realized that there are several key things found in the Digital News Report that coincide with my interviews. Additionally, it was interesting to note the difference in answers in relation to the age of the participants that were interviewed.

One of the striking results found in the study that deals with the age difference and gap is the decline in social media usage. The 2019 study found that around the United States, there is a six percent decrease in usage of social media platforms. The study claims that most of this is specially attributed to the lack of sharing and posting to the site Facebook. This, in my opinion, is the reason as to why Twitter is the most important media platform, especially since younger generations are beginning to rise through the ranks and take over media positions. This was a proponent in my interviews, as well, as it was clearly obvious that Facebook was the dominant platform in older adults, while those under 30 trended towards Twitter and Instagram.

Another statistic found in the study was the correlation of trusting the media being surprisingly low and interviewees believing most of the news is rather negative. Across the four interviews I conducted, all of the individuals said in great detail how, in their minds, most of today’s news is strictly negative (one even mentioned the term “if it bleeds, it leads”). This compares naturally with Digital News Report, where only 44% of the surveyed population believe that news is both trustworthy and watchable. Many of my interview subjects also branched out to explain how they lack trust in the media. The study agrees. In fact, the study found that over half of the world (54%) are concerned with distinguishing real news or news that is fake. This is a problem that, to me, must be fixed. For news to be news, we must not have series that convey opinions or expectations, but rather a simple acknowledgement of the facts.

Finally, the third and most striking difference between age groups during interviews was the ability to convey intelligence. It was significantly easier to extract information from the older of the four interview participants (whom were fans more of “old time” media, such as newspapers and 6:00 pm television) while most of the answers from the younger generation derived from what they saw on social media and not necessarily factual. Like Digital News Report illustrates, in the years 2018 and 2019, the higher people in news literacy would prefer reading text from either a newspaper or online article, rather than listening to a television program or social media post. It is unfathomable to me that a simple newspaper would be the greatest source of information, but the study also exclaims that most news from newspaper includes local news, which, for the most part, includes balance and fairness.

Reading the textbook and conducting these interviews truly opened me to a new level of understanding as to how generations differ in their usage of media and social networking. Although arguments can be made for both print and digital media platforms, it is paramount to incorporate both into the news landscape so one can be better served to develop a concise opinion and not be swayed by erroneous reporting.

            After learning an additional amount of material pertaining to law, ethics and social media on top of what I already knew, I came to the conclusion that there are numerous interesting aspects when it comes to these topics. Many people don’t seem to have a grasp on the difference between law and ethics, and social media has become a monstrous factor in day to day life. 

            In my learnings, it is obvious that to the naked eye, law and ethics seem to be the same because of one specific reason: both should be practices religiously by human beings.  However, law and ethics are incredibly different. A law is something that must be followed no matter what the case; otherwise, prosecution of the individual who broke the law can occur. On the other hand, ethics are what, to many, a person should do, or what the cultural “norm” would be. For instance, it is expected that during class, to ask a question or make a comment, one should raise his/her hand. With that being said, it the person does not do this, they can’t be charged with any misdemeanors or federal because this is not in writing. On the other hand, if a person is driving down the road and is going 90 miles per hour in a 60 zone, this is breaking the law and can cause a speeding ticket or a charge for reckless driving. 

            There also is another important distinction to make in the case of ethics: what is ethical to some may not be ethical to others. Because of different and contrasting cultures within the United States and the remainder of the world, people have different opinions and ideologies of what is right and wrong. In speaking of religion, Catholics believe going to church and worshiping God is incredibly necessary, thus those who don’t attend church are not followers of God. To counter, an Atheist, for example does not believe this. Instead, Atheists do not believe in God and don’t feel like one should be frowned upon in this belief. Other examples of different ethics include the argument to pay college athletes, whether college is necessary to attend, and if social media is something everyone should have and regularly use. 

       Law vs Ethics

     In terms of social media, the landscapes of today makes things so that it is almost a necessity to have social media apps. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are connecting so many more individuals at such a rapid pace, which makes for a faster and effective communication tool. Another positive comes in the form of positive communication and effective communication. In the event of a natural disaster, for example, response will automatically become quicker and donation campaigns can help to fund relief efforts. However, there are many negative aspects of social media. First, many individuals can become depressed or even suicidal by reading comments that seem derogatory towards someone. Social media dissuades people from having face to face conversations to resolve issues and instead encourages an environment in which anyone can say anything without repercussions. 

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