If there are two things I’ve been obsessed with for the past couple of months, they’ve included following the news and watching The Walking Dead. While both pastimes are fun and easy ways to show people that I have no social life, only one of them helps me improve as a person. Only one gives me the information I need to survive in an ever-changing and hostile world.
That still doesn’t explain why I follow the news.
That’s right: I get more relevant information from a show about living in a world overrun by zombies than I do from the mainstream media. That’s not to say that the mainstream media doesn’t give me access to an almost infinite amount of information; I just don’t trust any of it.
One of the most disillusioning things about America’s election, other than the Electoral College selecting someone who wasn’t popular enough to win an Emmy, was how much it felt like a total blindside.
Political pundits are quick to point out that many people live in a social media echo chamber where their likes on Facebook influence their news feed, causing them to see only posts they agree with. It can be tough to see something coming when none of your friends do, either.
But what almost no pundits are doing is accepting fault for months of false information that painted Clinton as a landslide winner. Instead, the finger is inevitably pointed at a seemingly endless line of culprits: lack of black voters, abundance of elderly voters, and Russian hackers. The list goes on and on.
However, no one is blaming the lack of unbiased reporting. It has long been a standing joke among me and my friends that the liberal media is to blame for most of the world’s woes. Be it forgetting a homework assignment, missing a bus, or any other type of simple screw up, we take great pleasure in blaming the typical liberal media.
We didn’t realize that we were so close to being right.
If there is one thing that this election has brought to the surface, other than a clear road map of how to make Jeb Bush feel bad about himself, it’s the bias in our media.
None of our mainstream media predicted Trump winning the election. And despite the fact that he had round-the-clock coverage, none of it was positive. If on the surface, never-ending, negative coverage which predicts your loss looks biased, that’s because it is.
That’s not to say that conservative media is any better. The leanings of Fox News and Breitbart are well known, yet both outlets function more as persuasive loudspeakers for conservative ideals than self-respecting news agencies.
So where does this leave the people? If both our mainstream and right wing outlets are skewed, how do the people stay informed so we can make the best decisions regarding our democracy? There are several options.
First, people can try to find common ground. Look at the most biased news sources for both the right (Fox) and left (NBC), and research a topic from perspectives of both organizations. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Second, if you’re too put off with typical media, there are numerous homegrown blogs dedicated to using open source materials for investigative journalism. One good example is Bellingcat, which does particularly strong Syrian War reporting.
If the first two strategies fail you, don’t worry. You can always watch The Walking Dead. Who knows? It might be teaching us very useful things for Trump’s America.