What is the News Media Persuading Us to Think?

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Every single day, millions of people all around the world pull out their computers, tablets, or smart phones and immediately receive access to the internet. Whether it be to write a research paper for a college class, look up a recipe for those amazing peanut butter cookies your friend made the other day, or simply just to check up on how many likes you got on your Instagram post, you’re using the internet at least three or more times a day. Yes, you are guilty of this, but that’s okay because, so am I. In fact, just about all of your family, friends, coworkers, and aquantancies are too. This is because the internet has become a part of daily life. And as you probably know, while you’re searching through the internet, you’re constantly being blasted with tons of different information. Ads, videos, messages, and links pop up on the side of the screen whether you want them there or not. As if that weren’t enough, every single one of them are in your face trying to get you to buy, read, or sign up for something.

Of all the media we encounter every day, one of the most influential sources are news media outlets. News media outlets keep people informed about what going on with celebrities, politics, or anything else important in the world. These include companies such as Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. Many people read articles on these news sources if they happen to catch their eye, and take little to no time to actually think about what it is they are reading. Few of us realize what’s actually behind these media outlets. What kind of messages they are trying to put out? What are they are trying to persuade their audience to think and feel?

So to figure these questions out, I took a look at a few different media outlets; CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. I chose these three particular outlets because they’re all a huge part of where we get our news information from. After reading a few headlines and articles from each, I made some observations. At first glance I noticed that they all seemed pretty similar. They all talked about a wide array of topics, all the way from sports to the presidential election, and they all seemed to cover the same major stories. For example, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, all made a point to talk about President Obama’s proposed nuclear deal between Iran and the United States. After reading this article from three different sources, I noticed that they all had differing standings on the topic.

I found it surprising that I could read about the same story three times, but each time see it in a completely different light. To start off, I read CNN’s take on the topic. CNN titled their story “Senate Democrats Deliver Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal Support”. The article basically explained that the Senate wanted to pass a measure that would not allow President Obama to go forth with the nuclear deal. The main issue was the fact that the Democrats voted against the Senate’s plan saying that they support the president and his decision to make the deal with Iran.  The article also mentioned that Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump will speak in an anti-Iran deal rally opposing the President’s decision. CNN’s article used a lot of direct quotes from political figures and valid statitistics about the voting in the Senate. Overall, the article remained fairly neutral when talking about this political topic.

Now, moving on to Fox News. Their article is titled “Iran Nuclear Deal Survives: Democrats Block Disapproval Vote”. This head line gives off a completely different vibe when compared to CNN’s. Fox uses the word “survives” as if the nuclear deal is something they want gone. And if you couldn’t tell already, they totally do.  First off, Fox mainly wrote the article from the view point of the Republican Party. They go into detail describing the Party’s frustration with the outcome of the vote. They also mention throughout the post about how hard the Republicans fought to win this vote and how big of a struggle it was for them. Fox News even calls the outcome of the voting “an improbable win by Obama”, suggesting that it was unexpected and unauthentic.

Lastly, I read an article on the same story called “Obama Scores Major Foreign Policy Victory with Senate Vote” from MSNBC. Similar to Fox News, you can tell how the media outlet feels about this particular topic just by reading the headline. MSNBC uses the words “scores” and “victory” to make it known to the audience that what happened in the Senate is a good thing in their eyes. This article makes a note to brag about the Democratic Party coming out on top. When mentioning the outcome, the article says “That was no small feat” and speaks of how the Democrats banded together to make this deal with Iran possible. The article also attempts to mock the Republican Party by responding to Senator Tom Cotton’s promise: “We’re going to kill this deal.” with a snarky “No, actually you’re not.”

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So, after reading an article on the same topic from three different sources, it was easy to see that they all possessed opposing viewpoints. Even when I looked at articles about different topics on each site, I still noticed the same trend. Each media outlet holds a viewpoint and their goal is to persuade their audience to agree with that viewpoint. Of course all three outlets use real facts to educate and inform their audience, but they also want to express an opinion. Fox News is extremely conservative. They side with conservative ideals and they want the reader to understand why they feel that way. MSNBC has the same goal but with a liberal viewpoint. They explain why they feel their opinion is right and why opposing opinions are wrong. CNN is a little different because they stay somewhat in between viewpoints. CNN mentioned things about both the Republican and Democratic parties without persuading the audience to lean towards one side. It basically stuck to factual evidence and didn’t throw out strong opinions like Fox or MSNBC.

I have always known that all media outlets differed on their viewpoints, but I never realized how much their viewpoint could affect the news.  I read the same story three times, but received a completely different outlook each time. Each media outlet presented different facts and opinions that altered how I viewed the topic. In my opinion, an observation like this shows that we can’t rely on just one news source or one website to give us all of our information. Websites and media outlets throw out tons of information every day, but it’s our choice what information we take in. Looking at multiple sources to gather information will allow us to keep an open mind and not get stuck on one solid viewpoint. That way, we will be able to form our own opinions based on what we find.

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