Fake news

‘When ideology meets bottom line: analysis on market competition and ideological bias in newspapers” is an account that presents the relation of conservative bias, as well as the prevalence of partisanship in today’s media. The article is examined with a South Korean context, where conservative newspapers control the marketplace of ideas. A worrying trend is observed in the results, as the number of news articles with conservative bias has seen an increasing trend in the last 10 years. It is also demonstrated that conservative bias increased as market competition intensified, echoing the effects of the decreasing profitability of print media. The author concluded with the view that ideological bias in news coverage is growing. I believe that this is particularly important, given the era of fake news and sensational reporting. A return to factual reporting must begin to preserve the integrity of the media.

The article identifies that conservative bias of conservative newspapers increases as competition among newspapers intensifies, in the case of South Korea. Fierce competition deteriorates the incentive of quality reports. I think parallels can be drawn to places like the UK where tabloids are more popular instead of quality media, resorting to sensational as well as partisan reporting. The papers has to pander the ideological views of the readers in order to retain them. Hence, news companies in the pursuit of revenue produces more biased reporting to attract readers.

The research also stated that such biases has been polarized in the newspaper market already, as people tend to fall into confirmation bias and only read newspapers that they are comfortable with. This could turn into a negative spiral as readers crave for more “biased” content and the reporting style thus is turned more biased to attract customers. As the article mentioned, consumers can not be thought as rational but read along ideological lines. People are so obsessed and ingrained in their ideology they fail to observe ‘fake news’, leaving facts and logic behind when reading a hoax or deliberate disinformation. 

Competition between print media and the new media is also a concern. I would also argue that the advent of the internet is a two-edged sword- information can flow more freely, but so is disinformation, such as fake news. The rise of ‘news sites’ such as Breitbart and infowars is also fueled by the mistrust towards the mainstream media.  Ad revenue is equally important on online platforms, and sensational reporting is a low cost way to attract viewers. It is much cheaper operating an online newspaper compared to conventional print media, and some consumers has already given up reading print. In a shrinking market, it seems more important than ever to win over sales and subscriptions.

What can be done to remedy the situation? The article gave clear insight as there is an incentive for media outlets to become more partisan as they gain more readers and in turn more revenue-answered in their research question. I agree with newspapers taking stances on issues, however to a limited extent which the facts are not distorted in any way. The way to restore the credibility of the media is to encourage professional journalism, but also a way to fund the media from being influenced by external factors such as big business. Media influence still plays a big role in society, however they must use the power not to mislead but inform people. Journalism could also benefit from competition such as providing different opinions on issues. However collaboration, such as the international effort in investigating the panama papers is more so important in providing factual news in the era of disinformation. 

Photo source: http://www.rhshightimes.com/are-newspapers-even-still-important

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