Urban school students turn to nontraditional news sources for political guidance

Jacob Winick, Staff Writer

Where do you get your news? MCNBC? Fox? Not if you’re an Urban student. Frustrated with the biased nature of major cable stations and network standards that focus on viewership rather than accuracy, Urban students are working hard to find news they can trust.

“I know my news is biased,” said Emily Miller (‘15). “It doesn’t normally bother me because it mostly has the same biases that I do, but I have been noticing it in a negative way more since my brother started talking about economics and telling me about how wrong, in his opinion (popular media) which I normally trust.”

“I just try to be decent at recognizing when my news is really biased,” Miller said. “I take it all with a grain of salt.”

While most students interviewed by the Legend recognized that, as Sophie Drukman-Feldstein (‘16) put it, “everything is inherently biased, unbiased news literally doesn’t exist,” many noted that some sources are worse than others.

“Fox News is a load of crap,” said Harry Bendekgey (‘15) who prefers Al Jazeera.

The vendetta of many Urban students against cable news, mainly MSNBC and Fox news, in favor of sites like the New York Times and Al Jazeera may be grounded. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, conducted in March of last year, 85 percent of MSNBC’s “news” programming and 55 percent of Fox’s is dedicated to opinion, rather than to objective reporting.

It seems that even comedic shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, neither of which claim to be objective, are doing a better at informing viewers than MSNBC, Fox, and even CNN, all of which claim to be objective in their reporting. A study conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, published in May of this year, found that The Colbert Report “did better than every other news source we included in our model.” Colbert satirically apologized on his show for “being the most informative all American news organizations.”

Urban students might be on to something by eschewing the largest news organizations. So what do they think of the news they are reading and how do they sift through the mountains of sensationalized headlines? As any Urban math student knows, there is more than one way to solve any problem.

Colin Riley (‘16) forgoes newspapers and television all together. “I mainly listen to (National Public Radio) in the car. I also watch The Philip Defranco Show (a popular youtube show),” said Riley. While Riley “tries to” find unbiased news, he acknowledges that he doesn’t “change (his) news sources.”

Nikki Kimzey (‘15) takes an even less traditional approach to following current events. “Most of the information I get is from the people around me and the people I talk to. Since I’m in a very liberal community, the news is definitely told to me in a very biased way, but I still think that if I read an unbiased article, I would come to a similar liberal viewpoint since my values and opinions are very liberal,” said Kimzey.

When prefered media sources are biased, others turn to more personal sources. “I usually believe the SF Chronicle or NY Times, but if someone seems unbiased, I talk to my parents, teachers, or friends to see what they think,” said Catherine Silvestri (‘18).

In contrast, Arthur Root (‘16) accepts that popular media is inherently biased and doesn’t attempt to avoid it. “Sources like MSNBC and Fox are biased, but as long as I understand that it is, I can form my opinions. Sensationalism can be annoying, but I just think of them as information sources that I can extract ideas from and contrast those with other sources to formulate my own ideas.“