Why might news media outlets engage in propaganda, sophistic objectivity, or sociocentrism?
Some of the most common reasons why news media outlets engage in sophistic objectivity, propaganda, or sociocentrism is in pursuit of a higher Television Rating Point (TRP), in order to win awards for having a high TRP, and to gain popularity amongst all the news channels in a country (Propaganda, n.d.). News media outlets may also engage in propaganda because of a sustained lack of emerging news or happenings to report about. In such a case, propaganda becomes the only available option to remain relevant. Generally, news media outlets involve themselves in such acts to achieve popularity and recognition. Moreover, many news media outlets also serve as an entertainment source for the public.
What alternative sources of information would you suggest in terms of securing less biased information and news sources? Why do you suggest these?
I think that the national news channels that are regulated by the government, such as national radio stations and news channels provide credible information or information that is less biased. Even though these stations or media outlets showcase simple information that may not have a lot of detail, they provide information that is factual and not biased. They are not likely to provide unsubstantiated information, propaganda, or untruthful information. The chances of these stations involving themselves in sociocentrism or sophistic objectivity are low. There are also some credible news websites and newspapers that provide information that is less biased.
Propaganda. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/propaganda
Media Bias and Propaganda: Gun Violence in the United States
The title of this article, on the Guardian, is “Where to avoid if you don’t want to be shot in America” (Mahdawi, 2018). Even before reading the article, I made several assumptions about what the article would speak about. First, I made an assumption that the article would communicate on which areas or states in the United States are high-risk areas. I also assumed that the article might be biased when it comes to the selection of areas that should be considered risky since the author might single out certain places based on non-factual information or based on her own personal judgment. I was very curious to see which areas in the United States the author considered unsafe and what information they would use to base their argument. I read the article out of the desire to find out the areas that I should avoid to ensure my safety and that of my family. The article lists the areas or places where mass shootings have occurred in the past, labeling these places as high-risk areas. The basis of the article is past occurrences and the author explains why the listed areas are high risk.
I did not find any form of bias in the information provided in the article, as the author provides factual information on past occurrences in the United States. However, I think the author uses propaganda in the selection of areas that people need to avoid for their own safety. A single occurrence of a mass shooting at a bar in a particular state does not provide enough reason for people all over the United States to avoid bars or pubs. For instance, one cannot tell Christians in the United States to avoid churches since there was a mass shooting at Sutherland Springs, Texas (Mahdawi, 2018). The information provided in this article favors the privileged view that people should avoid certain public places to protect themselves from gun violence. Bars, schools, and churches have been looked at as places that have a high probability of being hit by a mass shooter, and this article supports this view.
This article, on Aljazeera, provides information on the various gun violence incidents that have occurred in the United States in the recent past (Al Jazeera, 2019). Prior to reading the article, I made assumptions about what I would find in the information provided in the article. I assumed that the article would use propaganda to show how bad the situation in the United States is and how the issue of gun violence is a national crisis. I also assumed that the article would provide biased information on how the issue should be dealt with. The article speaks about a movement started by students after the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year and how more than 1200 children in the United States have been killed in gun violence across the country (Al Jazeera, 2019). The article provides information on the various movements that have been conducted in support of stricter gun laws in the United States.
There is a little element of bias in the information provided by the article on Aljazeera. The article bases its claims on information obtained from credible sources such as the CDC, Reuters news agency, and the FBI. However, I feel like the numbers provided are exaggerated intentionally to paint a picture of a crisis in the United States, especially in the sections where the stories of victims of gun violence are highlighted. The article confirms popular views that the political leaders are opposed to stricter gun control and gun laws, with the blame being placed on the NRA. Even though the information provided has truth in it, it is conveyed in a way that exaggerates the effect that gun violence has had on the country, perhaps to ensure that the readers develop a stronger concern for their safety and to influence people to advocate for stricter gun laws.
This article on the New York Times speaks about the number of deaths that have occurred in the United States as a result of gun violence (Mervosh, 2018). Prior to reading the article, I developed some assumptions about the article, just from reading the title, “Nearly 40,000 People Died From Guns in U.S. Last Year, Highest in 50 Years” (Mervosh, 2018). I expected the article to provide data and numbers of the deaths that have occurred as a result of gun violence. I assumed that the author of the article would show bias and use propaganda in the delivery of the message and provision of figures. The placement of the figure 40,000 in the title was a deliberate act to capture the attention of readers and make the matter appear very severe. Any reader who comes across the title of the article will go through the article out of sheer curiosity to understand how all these deaths occurred in one year.
The article provides information referenced from the CDC and other credible sources. However, the author conveys the message and numbers in a way that elicits sympathy and concern from the readers. The information provided in this article is quite different from that which is provided in the previously reviewed articles, as the author discusses the suicides that have occurred as a result of gun ownership (Mervosh, 2018). Many articles or authors writing about gun violence in the United States focus on mass shootings and school shootings. There are not many articles that acknowledge that a majority of the deaths associated with guns in the united states are suicides and not mass shootings. The author also speaks of the relationship which exists between drug abuse and gun violence, a perspective that several authors do not look at. The author provides accurate information that is well structured to effectively communicate to the reader. The perspective of the differences in deaths in the various states has also been discussed, with the author noting that these differences show the effects of varying gun control laws and regulations among the states of the U.S. There is no element of propaganda noted in this article.
In order to find information that is relevant, truthful, accurate, and credible, one needs to use a peer-reviewed source or reference. Sometimes referred to as a scholarly source or refereed source, a peer-reviewed information source refers to an article or journal that is written by an expert in a particular field and reviewed by a number of other experts in the same field before it is published in order to ensure that the information provided within the article is quality information. The article or journal is checked for accuracy of information, scientific validity, reasonable conclusions, and accuracy of figures. Most of the time, the experts reviewing the article or journal do not personally know the author of the article. This ensures non-bias and that the article fails or succeeds on its own quality and merit, and not the reputation of the author or bias of the reviewers. I found a number of peer-reviewed articles and scholarly sources that helped in the understanding of the issue of gun violence in the United States, including a book by DeConde (2003), who provides information on the effects of gun violence and how various agencies are advocating for gun control and an article by Kleck (2017) who provides insight into the gun violence situation in the United States.
Kleck, G. (2017). Point blank: Guns and violence in America. Routledge.
DeConde, A. (2003). Gun violence in America: the struggle for control. UPNE.
Mahdawi, A. (2018, November 20). Where to avoid if you don’t want to be shot in America. Retrieved February 14, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/20/us-mass-shootings-locations-avoid-bar-church-movie-theater-concert
Al Jazeera. (2019, February 14). More than 1,200 children in US killed by guns in the last year. Retrieved February 15, 2019, from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/1200-children-killed-gun-violence-year-190213205836489.html
Mervosh, S. (2018, December 18). Nearly 40,000 People Died From Guns in U.S. Last Year, Highest in 50 Years. Retrieved February 15, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/us/gun-deaths.html