With most major news outlets being owned by a very small percentage of corporations, there seems to be hardly any news sources that just state the facts without providing bias and stating their own opinions. Al Jazeera, which is a news outlet based out of the Middle East (Qatar to be exact) just may be a refreshing change of pace from what you are used to.
If you watch or read anything from Fox, NBC, BBC, or even CNN it will be a stretch to find an article or interview that does not include bias. Whether it be outright and blunt, or subtle with very peculiar word choice, it is most likely there. Recently I had to do a media monitoring project for my writing class and had to do research about a news outlet. I had heard about Al Jazeera but never actually read any of their pieces. I was hoping that they would be non-biased and just state the facts, but was very doubtful considering it is such a huge name in news. I was proven wrong after monitoring different articles day after day. Al Jazeera was very fact-oriented, never showing the writer’s personal bias, nor the bias of the company as a whole. After my group-mates and I each monitored a different article every day for a week straight, none of us found an article that suggested Al Jazeera was biased to one side or the other. Whether it was about American politics, world politics, economics, social issues, or anything in between, they were very cut and dry with their pieces. They listed the good sides and bad sides to each situation without ever trying to influence the reader as to which one was the “right side”.
If you were to compare my group’s finding with Al Jazeera to other groups who had Fox News, or NBC News, or CNN, you would see that we were the only group that reported absolutely no bias in any of our articles. A prime example of this would be the difference in articles regarding the Kentucky clerk who is denying same-sex couples marriage licenses. If you read Al Jazeera’s article here and then compare it to Fox News’ article covering the same exact story here you will notice that Al Jazeera only states the facts about the case, while Fox goes into very specific detail about how her rights are being violated by the ruling. Fox plays on the pathos side, trying to get the reader to feel sympathetic towards Kim Davis, while Al Jazeera doesn’t use logos, pathos, or ethos, to try to make the reader feel a certain way.
Across all the major news networks, there were some prominent stories that stuck out. One of the most prominent topics was the 2016 presidential election. It was refreshing to see articles strictly stating the candidate’s opinion, instead of stating the candidate’s opinion with a comment from the media directly afterwards saying whether that was right or wrong. Al Jazeera would go over their political stance and what they have been doing without trying to influence the reader one way or the other. Another topic that was consistently covered was the Syrian refugees. Al Jazeera tended to go more in detail about that than the other news outlets.
One article I read on Al Jazeera was pertaining to Ben Carson and his campaign strategies so far. At the beginning of the article it was emphasizing how great of a job he was doing and it was striking me that this could be the first biased article I had read from Al Jazeera. They were discussing how flying under the radar and not inciting conflicts with other candidates was helping him compared to Trump who seemingly is picking fights with just about everyone. Right when I was sure there was bias being pro-Carson, it went on to detail everything that he was not doing well. They were discussing how Carson is just a quieter version of Trump and he could be piggybacking off of Trump’s policies. So at the beginning of the article, they seemed very pro-Carson but at the end they were able to show the cons as well as the pros, making it very factual instead of opinionated. Not only highlighting the good, but highlighting the bad as well.
Most trends occurring on major news stations include politics, economics, and humans rights issues. Whether it be Fox, NBC, CNN, or Al Jazeera, most of the stories were under one of these three categories. Below is a screenshot of the home pages of Al Jazeera (top) and Fox News (bottom) on September 10th. If you look closely, you will notice that almost every story on there is concerning one of the three issues above.
One of the few bright sides is to that even though they may be biased, that news outlets are at least covering what is important. These are the issues in today’s society that have the most impact on us. One of the biggest problems though, is that we read articles about all these things going wrong in this world, but not enough people are trying to do anything to change it. We are half way there, people are caring about these issues that are going on, now we just have to inspire people to take action and do something about it.
Before learning it in my first year writing seminar, I had no idea that in 2011, 90% of the American media is owned by just 6 companies. If you go back to 1983 however, 90% of American media was owned by 50 different companies (http://www.freepress.net/blog/11/11/22/media-consolidation-illusion-choice). US citizens believe they are able to watch many different news stations to get different opinions, but in reality, there is an oligarchy on national coverage. This affects society because people are getting a very narrow view of what is going on in the world. These 6 major companies are controlling almost all of the news outlets in the US and the average citizen is not going to look too far to find news so they always end up dealing with one of the Big 6.