Universal facts, such as the capital of California is Sacramento, are easy to absorb from media and search engines. Knowledge, on the other hand, is defined as “awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation” by the Oxford Dictionary and is much more difficult to acquire.(online-only)
Bias is the natural element of knowledge that makes us human. The integration of personal values and familiarity with facts creates human knowledge. Bias is commonly created in this integration, it is the personalization of a fact based on one’s system of values. Without the evaluation of facts and the creation of bias, knowledge would stretch only as far as universally accepted facts go. Society must allow for everyone to develop their knowledge and must, therefore, avoid biases when delivering facts such as the news to the public. Bias is defined as “an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment” by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (online-only)
It is commonly antagonized despite being the component of knowledge that defines the human race. In order to form real knowledge of a subject, one must be able to evaluate universal facts based on his or her value system. The formation of deep knowledge is hindered by the distribution of biased information on the media. Audiences are manipulated by the press and develop a narrow minded perspective of current issues. The consequent lack of political and social awareness is the main cause of tension between different ideological groups, especially during this presidency.
The first step to avoiding bias in the news is being able to identify bias. In doing so, one must acknowledge the side taken by the reporter delivering the information and identify the factual evidence he or she uses throughout the piece to draw attention and support from the audience. When watching the news, it is important to know some background information about the reporter to be able to identify the issues on which he or she may be opinionated.
Instead of searching for a completely credible and unbiased article, reading different articles from different media sources with opposing perspectives and identifying the bias of each piece is a resourceful way to get news, especially in a tense and politically divided presidency. Being able to identify biases on both sides of the political spectrum, such as FOX News on the right and CNN on the left, counteracts the distortion of facts they present to the public via media outlets. Avoiding analysis shows aired on channels such as FOX, CNN, and NBC is a basic way to avoid the opinionated presentation of current events on the media. News reports often discuss statements made by the President and other executive figures; a good way to form an unbiased opinion about said statements is to go straight to their origins. Watching presidential speeches or reading the President’s social media posts and then forming a first-hand opinion about them is an ideal example of knowledge formation based on personal evaluation of facts. In this presidency, prominently, there is an emphasis on the social media activity of political figures, especially Trump. A great deal of controversy forms around these posts and is discussed on many media outlets, and thus is very difficult to avoid or ignore, but developing the ability to identify bias and finding a way to directly absorb facts are useful for avoiding premature opinions about current issues on the news.
Forming individual and personally evaluated opinions about current issues is a crucial element to bridging political and social gaps that have increased after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Avoiding bias is a step toward the formation of human knowledge. Being able to process presented facts through one’s personal value system provides a sense of identity and self-understanding. Identifying with political and social advocacy groups begins with one’s identification with his or her self.
Karen Blaunstein is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.