I often wonder how many people actually watch the news. Until today, I never realized that it’s a pretty hard statistic to find. But there are a bunch of different news programs on television which leads me believe that there must be a decent number of viewers.
Until recently, I’ve always gone to one channel for my news. Partly because it’s a news network, dedicated to broadcasting “breaking news” and partly because for whatever reasons I trust that their reports are fair and true.
Two weeks ago I asked myself why I only rely on one network. Since then I’ve been making a point to tune into different news programs. I haven’t found the single best news program but I have found that each program & station is visibly different.
The reporters are different – some share their own commentary while others seemingly read off the prompter, sticking to the message.
The biases are different – let’s admit it, we all know different networks put a little spin on things even if they don’t intent to do so. I’ve even noticed some programs putting an emphasis on different “breaking” news stories than other programs.
Even the stories are different – different networks stress on local topics, national topics, and global topics. I’ve also found that if a story is being reported in real-time, different stations have slight variations of the same story.
When you have such variance between news networks, how do you know what’s accurate? Here are 3 questions you should be asking yourself while watching the news:
1. How do they know that?
2. What assumptions do I need to make in order for that to be true?
3. Where else have I heard information that supports or contradicts that?
For even more critical thinking practice, switch it up and watch different news programs & stations. Ask the same questions but also think about the differences between programs.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Elizabeth Pauker-Silva