It’s Time to Think Critically and Ask Important Questions

    It seems like there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t hear something new regarding Trump. The most recent news involves Trump making the false claim regarding election fraud. Using his favorite medium of communication and social media outlet, Twitter, he tweeted out Sunday afternoon, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” See the attached tweet below.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-4-10-43-pm

    Trump has won the electoral vote but the Democratic nominee has surpassed him by over two million votes. According to Cook Political Report, Hillary Clinton holds 64.2 million votes in comparison to Trump’s 62.2 million (Wolf). There is no base or merit of fact to back up Trump’s claim to illegal voting. Trump’s illegitimate claim and allegation is not just a tweet. It reveals the power of the news media and one of the biggest issues we are faced with, inaccurate news and misinformation, which contributed to the election of Trump in the first place.

    According to a 2016 survey, two-thirds of Facebook users get news from the site, that’s nearly seven-in-ten people (Pew Research Center).

medtronic-dss-7-out-of-10.png

    I admit through the election cycle, Facebook was a primary source to which I would get my news from. I would follow by “liking” news source pages such as NPR and CNN, click on articles shared by friends, and check the lower right-hand corner of the news section of Facebook. The issue with social media’s role as a news source isn’t that it shouldn’t be trusted as a legitimate source due to its non-traditional role as a disseminating source of news, but rather not all sources shared and posted on Facebook are “accurate” news. Now I put the parentheses around the word accurate, because the definition of what “accurate” news could be debated, but to me accurate news consists of unbiased and fair reporting, which includes the ability to back up presented claims with facts. I have since then diversified my sources for news and am looking into ways to be an active news consumer; suggestions are welcomed!

So why would media coverage even matter in primary elections?

    “A deep dive into the news media’s role in the rise of Donald J. Trump” answers this perfectly. I’ll sum it up here. We all need information to make decisions, and we gather this information through many forms, whether it be from the radio station, a news station on TV, or from your favorite online news web source. All of these are forms of the news media. Therefore, presidential primaries are a place where information, accurate reporting, and news, matter even more. As mentioned in the article, the phrase “‘Voters, not the press, decide elections’ is more wrong than right.” The impact of Trump’s news coverage is evident. His messages were popular and boosted him primarily among those who were more predisposed to find his message appealing (Sides and Leetaru).

    Social media and media coverage were pieces of Trump’s chess board that contributed to his ascension to the nomination. It’s hard to imagine in absence of media coverage, that Trump could have done so. With a world where there is an increasing number of “fake news” and a lack of accountability for sources to have a perfect 0% margin of error for accurate reporting, it becomes even more so important to realize:

Words matter.
The truth matters.
The divide of America has not been more evident.
Regardless of whether you’re a die-hard conservative, left-leaning liberal, or proud moderate, this isn’t a partisan issue. It’s time for Americans to be active news and media consumers.

What can you and I do?

  1. Think critically.
    1. Take a moment to understand: “What am I being presented with?”
      So many times we see an “accurate” news source and fail to critically analyze what we are reading.
    2. View different sources; this helps to build perspective.
  2. Question our sources.
    1. Fact-check, don’t believe everything you read and see.
    2. “Are there any substantial facts to back up claims made?”
  3. Ask important questions.
    1. “What are the main takeaways from this news piece?”
    2. “What are my thoughts about this?”
    3. “What else do I need to know to be better informed on this subject?”
Source Citations:
Gottfried, Jeremy and Shearer, Elisa. “New Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016.” Pew Research Center. http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/

Sides, John and Leetaru, Kalev. “A deep dive into the news medias role in the rise of Donald J. Trump.”
Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/06/24/a-deep-dive-into-the-news-medias-role-in-the-rise-of-donald-j-trump/

Wolf, Richard. “Clinton’s popular vote lead surpasses 2 million.”
USA TODAY. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/11/21/election-results-electoral-popular-votes-trump-clinton/94214826/
“2016 National Popular Vote Trackers.” The Cook Political Report. http://cookpolitical.com/story/10174

 

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