The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

    Reliance on partisan sources makes us less informed

    As avid users of technology and social media, the millennial generation is well aware of the number of ways to receive news, both domestic and international. Between newspapers, television and social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, we have become used to receiving news as quickly as possible. But what happens when members of our generation begin to rely solely on partisan news like MSNBC, Fox or even “The Daily Show?”

    Is our quick news even accurate? While partisan news networks are still effective in the sense that they reach mass amounts of people, they clearly tend to focus on reporting a one-sided story instead of an unbiased one. For those who watch and read only partisan news, this can greatly skew their opinion and prevent them from forming their own ideas on the topic at hand.

    For example, Fox news tweeted, “Hillary #Clinton compares Putin’s #Ukraine action to Nazi policy,” with a link to the full story on the Democratic politician Hillary Clinton March 4. On the same day, MSNBC tweeted, “Sarah Palin: Putin ‘wrestles bears’ while President Obama ‘wears mom jeans,'” with a link to the full story on the Republican politician Sarah Palin. Neither news network acknowledged the other stories.

    Seriously, informing via Nazi references and mom jeans? So the question is: does partisan news make our generation more uneducated? According to a survey conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, people who did not watch news were able to answer an average of 1.22 out of 4 questions about domestic politics, whereas people who watched solely Fox news were able to only answer an average of 1.04 out of 4 questions. Should society then discourage people to watch partisan news?

    As long as people remain intelligent about it, DePaul journalism professor Suzanne Cosgrove does not think so. “(Partisan news) has its place, but you can’t take it seriously,” Cosgrove said. “Even ‘The Daily Show,’ which I like a lot, needs to be taken with a grain of salt. At least, that’s what Jon Stewart tells viewers.” There are a few positive outcomes resulting from the news outlets.

    Although partisan news followers may have extreme opinions on national/international affairs, they are still often engaged, active citizens; conversely, those who watch no news may score higher on a simple current events poll, but their opinions on the news are weak to nonexistent and contribute little to the problems being reported.

    The United States of America is constantly encouraging U.S. citizens to have an active voice in problems the country faces, so even though the millennial generation is considered more uneducated than generations before, they are not afraid to make their voice heard. Of course, is it really good that uninformed citizens often have the loudest voices? What’s the point of being an engaged, active citizen if you don’t even know the full story?

    “Lots of people take what they hear or see at face value, but they just can’t,” Cosgrove said. “As with reporting, a person looking for the truth of a story has to tap a number of sources.”

    While one cannot force people to stop watching a certain news network and/or to start watching or reading another, they can advise the best way to receive the best news: do not rely on merely one source for all of your information and news updates. By disregarding an entire side of a story, the consequences can increase and affect large events such as political elections.

    Gallup polls report that 90 percent of Americans disapproved of Congress in 2012; however, 91 percent of the Members of Congress won re-election. This reinforces the idea that uninformed citizens help decide who governs the United States.

    How are there so many uninformed citizens? This is the result of partisan news. If you do not have the time or interest to keep up with multiple sources of news, then it is important to understand the effects partisan news can have on both an individual’s opinions and actions.

    “If you watch partisan news, remember it’s not telling you the whole story,” Cosgrove said.