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What Sources Do You Use For Balanced, Unbiased News?

A friend asked the following on the Facebook social networking site:

"Who would you consider to be the most balanced, bi-partisan or "fair" news source for American politics?"

My response: there is no single, balanced source. There are no shortcuts. It takes time and effort to stay informed.

There's no substitute for consumers actively reading a variety of sources. I read news wires (Associated Press (AP), United Press International (UPI), Reuters, McClatchy DC), some "left" leaning sources (e.g., The New York Times, National Public Radio, Slate), some "right" leaning sources (e.g., Fox News, Breitbart News), and foreign sources (e.g., BBC, Guardian UK).

For news about a specific federal, state, or local government agency I visit that agency's website: Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Department of Justice (DOJ), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Department of Labor (DOL), and the attorney general in each state.

One needs a variety of news sources in order to maintain a WORLD view... and not a myopic USA-only view... and not a myopic view slanted by a political party. With so much free content online, there is no excuse for consumers to read a variety of sources.

A key problem I often see in sites claiming to be news sites: video content without accompanying transcripts.. This is poor reporting for several reasons. First, transcripts provide readers with the opportunity to fact check, check spelling, and follow embedded links to learn more. Some might call that critical thinking. I view sites which fail to provide transcripts with video as untrustworthy.

Second, the lack of transcripts favors sighted readers. Some online users have disabilities (e.g., blind, hearing loss). The lack of video transcripts makes it difficult to impossible for them to consume this content. Maybe this is a by-product of the "mobile first design" strategy with website development. Or maybe it is plain laziness. Regardless, it's unacceptable.

I found it somewhat unsettling that the person asking this question used "who" instead of "what." That may imply a personality-driven or celebrity-focused view of news sources.

What do you think? What do you read?


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Chanson de Roland

I fully endorse the Editor’s view that to get a fair, balanced, and complete view of the world, a person must ready from a variety of sources of news from across the political spectrum. The reason for that is that all sources of news have biases that reflect the values and beliefs of its publisher/owner and the newsroom that he hires. Some are more explicit in their bias than others, while other news organizations are quite sophisticated in reporting in a way that conceals their biases so as to seem that they have no bias, but that misconception is exploded when you read and compare their reporting, especially on controversial stories, with reporting from others across the political spectrum.

I also share the Editor’s dislike of video without the accompanying transcript. But to the reasons for his objections, I add this: Video presents powerful rhetorical devices which are very persuasive but which are almost always much harder to detect. And video itself is simply has a much greater impact on the mind. So I distrust video, won’t abide it without a transcript, and will compare video to other reporting, both video and print, on the same story in an effort to escape the effects of a video’s rhetoric.

Finally, I suggest these additions to the Editor’s list of publication: The Weekly Standard, which presents the best in conservative thought and in very good prose; and Science Daily, which provides comprehensive reporting on the latest in science, which will be much better than what’s available in a general purpose paper.

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