Opinion

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THE INFLUENCE OF MEDIA BIAS IS SEPARATING AMERICA

By: Nathan Gee

Infographic credits go to International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

 

As a journalist, editorializing is a violation of our integrity as people who present news to the public. To maintain objectivity in journalism, journalists present the facts whether or not they like or agree with those facts. Objective reporting strives to portray issues and events in a neutral and unbiased manner, regardless of the writer’s opinion or personal beliefs. To alter the facts or to hide the coverage of a specific event to manipulate an audience is more prominent than ever with the advances of technology and the massive amount of news sources.

So what is media bias? Media bias is the bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media concerning the selection of events and stories that are reported, and how they are covered. There are different types of biases, with the most commonly discussed forms of bias occurring when the media support or attack a particular political party, candidate, or ideology. A very common type of news bias we see today is sensationalism, which may include reporting about generally insignificant matters and events that don’t influence overall society, exaggerating certain stories in order to gain audience or notoriety at the expense of accuracy and professionalism. Examples include the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal, the O.J Simpson murder case, and the more recent Jussie Smollett controversy.

It’s ironic how we’ve progressed so far as a society when it comes to the spread of information. The dissemination of information and which demographics receive this information is also vital to how different groups would react to a particular controversial event (school shootings, scandals of famous people, and more). We all have a few people in our social media networks who share ridiculous articles and others that genuinely believe fake news stories plastered on social media. With the internet being widely available and many users online depending on the internet to keep them updated on current events, it is almost impossible to keep track of what comes out as real or fake news. The plethora of fake news and propaganda is the cause of many people being uninformed about current events and would even deny certain circumstances to hold onto their views, which is called confirmation bias. Climate change deniers, as well as the growing anti-vax movement, are proof of how fake news can influence and make people question the science and previous long-held beliefs.

Believe it or not, even huge news outlets like CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News push certain narratives when it comes to providing news. When comparing the news coverage in 2018, with data provided by Michael Tauberg of towardsdatascience.com, it’s no surprise that the mainstream news is dominated by ‘Trump.’ CNN and MSNBC are almost entirely devoted to President Trump and his scandals, with ‘Trump,’ ‘Cohen,’ ‘Mueller,’ and ‘Manafort’ being the top terms. On Fox, ‘Trump’ is still number one by a wide margin, but the other stories regarding local news and issues are more generic (i.e. ‘man,’ ‘woman,’ ‘report,’ ‘police’). It is evident that even though these news sources mention the same person, their respective position regarding the coverage of Trump is vastly different.

A more recent example would be FOX News vs. MSNBC’s coverage on the impeachment inquiry. On November 21, 2019, the headlines regarding Ambassador Sondland on Fox News were “Sunland: ‘President Trump never told me directly that aid was tied to the announcement of investigations’.” MSNBC, on the other hand, had a different headline, presenting “Sondland confirms deal with Ukraine, implicates Trump.”

The fact that these two headlines were so different showed that different parts of the hearing were emphasized on their respective news sources to spin a narrative to the audience in order to relieve their confirmation biases. The way news is presented today is why many people are outraged with Trump, and why many people support him ruthlessly as well. The media bias feeds these two groups of people what they want to hear, putting the American people in a position of conflict and distrust towards each other.

The “Us vs. Them” mentality provokes toxic behavior (shutting down or attacking someone for their stance on a particular subject) and discredits conversation between two opposing groups, with one group wanting to shut down the other group as fast as possible.

Twitter is an excellent example of this behavior with people from the left and right of the political spectrum bombarding each other with hate, and even President Trump tweeting against his enemies in the media.

    So how do we know who to trust when it comes to getting news? I believe that you should always take every news story that gets released with a grain of salt. Make sure you know what kind of content a certain is: news story, an opinion piece, or an investigative piece, etc. Be skeptical when reading about an event, and even check if other new sources have made a story on it. Try to find out what the author’s purpose and the main point of the story and whether there is evidence to back up their account.

    Although media bias is present in today’s news, try to take a neutral standing when reading a heavily controversial story as it is vital to question what you are reading and how news sources depict their stories.

 

EXORBITANT COLLEGE APPLICATIONS FEES INHIBIT STUDENTS

By: Gordon Liang

 

Stanford University, despite having an acceptance rate of 5%, charges the one of the highest application fees at $90.

Throughout our high school careers, we look forward to one specific day: graduation day. Many of us seek higher education after high school—however, when we apply for colleges, we’re essentially throwing darts at a board that we can’t see, hoping to hit the bulls-eye. To increase our chances of hitting the bulls-eye, we throw more darts—we apply to more colleges. Many colleges charge a fee above $60, and, unfortunately, many of us don’t qualify for fee waivers, so those fees pile up. Applying to colleges is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime experience and fees are overshadowing that by discouraging students from applying to certain schools.

College is classified as a “watershed” period in life. Statistically, those who have a college degree make around $1,000,000 more throughout their career than those who only have a high school diploma. While other factors like choice of major and tuition price play roles in finding the best-fit college as well, generally going to college is an important period that affects the rest of one’s life. Lots of people don’t want to miss out on college and they want to make sure that they go to the best college that they can. One shouldn’t be in debt before they even attend college.

Colleges primarily charge fees to limit the amount of applications they recieve; the fee disincentivizes those who are unlikely to be admitted from applying. This only discriminates between those who can pay and those who can’t instead of separating those who can be admitted and those who probably won't.

While many turn to financial status when determining whether a fee waiver is granted, I think that academic standing should be the deciding factor. When a student’s grades are high, they aim high but fear that if they get rejected, they’ll end up at schools that weren’t worth their four years of perseverance. To alleviate this, they set up many safety schools. Safety schools aren’t fee-less so in setting up safety schools along with schools that they dream of going to, high achieving students end up spending hundreds of dollars to pay for application fees. If schools were to offer merit-based fee waivers, high achieving students may be able to apply without worrying about falling financially behind before they even enter college.

Another solution would be for colleges to refund a portion of the application fee for students that they admit. That way, safety schools would be more easily accessible for students and students would not have to worry about the financial burden that comes with setting up safety schools.

 

EDITORIAL

By: Lincoln Log Staff

 

In today’s world, politics is so prevalent that nearly everyone has their opinion. Politics often make their way into the classroom, allowing conversation with students. When teachers converse about politics, it is sometimes hard to contain their opinions as they are just as human as the rest of us. While having an opinion is great and very much needed, it has no place in a supposedly “neutral” classroom environment. A bias from the teacher poses a detriment to students who may have differing views.

Teachers set the tone in a classroom and political leanings from them set an unsafe environment for students who disagree. Typically, the class instructor is the expert in the room. We grew up taking in our teachers’ words as definite truths. Politics complicate this. In education, there is often a clear distinction between right and wrong. In politics, nothing is black and white. A student who is used to imbibing knowledge from their teacher will feel uncomfortable for disagreeing with their teacher. The student will feel isolated from their peers who agree with their teacher. And oftentimes, due to the lefty demographics of the Bay Area, teachers assume their students agree with them.

As aforementioned, politics has a lot of gray areas. Every issue brings along multiple points of view. When a teacher gets political, they are often advocating the side of an issue that they align with whilst ignoring the opposing side. By advocating for one facet of an issue, students follow suit and see one point of view on issues. A teacher’s job is to educate, not indoctrinate. They must remember not to use their power to have the last word. A teacher may present inquisitive thought by representing both facets of an issue and throwing their own bias out the window. When students see both points of view on a political issue, they’ll have to pick a side on their own, thus giving thought to which side poses a more convincing argument (in their respective opinion).

This applies to more than just conversation (as previously mentioned). Teachers who instruct activities and games that involve politics, as done is American democracy classes, should be careful not to create a false dichotomy and unfairly categorize. There, instead, should be a platform for free speech of all different views and ideologies; an open-minded environment which the teacher can model.

 

PEOPLE IN THE HALLS

By: Onalisa Mitchell, Yuqing Qiu, Alisa Romagnoli, and Gordon Liang

Joanna Jimenez

Senior

What is your favorite part about the Lincoln community?

“I like the sports and how they continue to fuel the school

Spirit.”


Aaron Ow

Senior

Which of the four elements (earth, fire, water, air) do you think you are and why?

“Honestly, I think I’m all of them. because I am the Avatar.”


Lucas Dong

Senior

What will you miss the most about Lincoln?

“The community. There’s such a tight knit community here. I have all of my friends here.”


Angelina Jiamez

Senior

What is your favorite class as a senior?

“AP Psychology because it is different from many of the other traditional classes offered at our school.”



 

 

 

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