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Media Transparency Discussion Series: Introduction

A new study came out that states in big bold headlines that the two sides of the political coin, Democrats and Republicans, hold vastly different opinions of the media. Whereas the political left is inclined to trust the media and have faith in it's integrity, the political right believes the opposite. This has many disturbing implications for both sides. Is that trust in the integrity of media misplaced for the Democrats? Is that lack of faith a sign of something much darker for the Republicans? What happened to make this dichotomy our new reality? To properly answer these questions, there needs to be a clear understanding of how mass media functions today, how to handle problems with the system, and ultimately on how to reconcile across the aisle.

To begin organizing our framework, let's attempt to define what this big gloopy thing, "The Media" is. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “The main means of mass communication (broadcasting, publishing, and the Internet) regarded collectively.” For our purposes, that means knowing how it functions (funding, information dissemination, ethics, etc.). From that baseline, we get into the nitty gritty and begin unraveling what laws and policies govern what the media can/can’t, or will/won’t do with regards to reporting. It is also vital to explain how different types of media function within these parameters (public vs. private). To do this, we will look at a collection of case studies and examine them through a designed framework built on established metrics. At the end of this series, we will move into a discussion of media bias, transparency, how the current political climate in America has been impacted, and strategies to counter misinformation.

Our focus is on news propagation which is distributed most often through TV, Radio, Newspapers, and the wide open Internet. Most Americans get their news from television networks, the big three being Fox Network Corporation, CNN and MSNBC. We will be examining those, as well as NPR, and The New York Times which according to studies performed by Pew Research, most of those who identify as the left get their news from those two sources in addition to the three former.

With luck and a lot of research, I hope to make this very complicated and vital topic a little less murky.