Last summer, I participated in a Better Angels Workshop (David Brooks actually wrote a column about it). It was a transformative experience for many of us, and afterwards, a group of “Blues” and “Reds” from the workshop (including myself, a “Blue”) published our own article in the Tennessean resolving to improve our efforts in “political involvement, media consumption, and community building.”
Today, I want to focus on our goal to improve “media consumption” by “[seeking] diverse, moderate, and quality information sources representing both sides.” Since this workshop, I have tried to diversify my news sources beyond Facebook, the New York Times, and NPR.
One great resource I’ve found is AllSides, which strives to show the same news stories as reported from differently-biased websites and papers. It’s amazing to see how subtle framing shapes our reactions. Headlines alone show how we seek information that confirms our biases. For example, compare these headlines (telling the same story), but from opposite sides:
From Right: Comey calls Trump ‘morally unfit to be president,’…
From Left: Trump ‘morally unfit to be president,” Comey says in TV interview
The first one focuses on name-calling (the fact that Comey made an accusatory statement). The second focuses on the statement itself, presenting it as a truth before introducing its author and context. Neither news is “fake,” but the presentation largely determines what I think is important and how I react.
Another great aspect of AllSides is that it can show you stories that aren’t even considered news by the other side. For example, it links to an extreme right article titled “New Report: How Social Media Giants Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Suppress Conservative Speech” and an extreme left article titled, “Fox & Friends weekend shows ignored stories about Trump associate Michael Cohen.” From what I’ve seen, AllSides’ only flaw is that it doesn’t have enough users yet, but we can help fix that!
I still have a long way to go in seeking out different sides of our national political conversation, but AllSides has been a good start. How do you find diverse, quality, and moderate news sources? Do you have any recommendations? Please share!