In society, we receive a lot of information that is not truthful and has the possibility of changing the way we think. This is systematic to the way news is gathered and not being as objective as we think we are.
A university professor gives the readers of the Catholic Peace Weekly some thoughts to keep in mind when hearing and viewing the news.
The press often gives brief names to incidents and people— objects of their reports. The moment the media gives a name to an incident, that given name becomes an attribute of the object. Because of coziness with the police or government, each media company may give different names to the incidents.
Naming the incident by the press helps the public to understand the object quickly. However, caution is required because incorrect naming can result in a misunderstanding of incidents and the people involved.
Also, the media conveys the names given by politicians on incidents or other groups with different political interests. Here we may hear expressions of dislike for specific groups distributed online without qualifications.
The media makes the object of the report understood from that particular media's point of view, and can reinforce a negative attitude toward the named object. As a result, it can lead to blind loyalty to the in-group and a negative attitude toward the other groups, leading to social division.
Among the news values that influence the press's selection are social deviations, which are considered more newsworthy, so more attention is given to incidents with properties that violate social norms or rules. Most of the incidents of deviant behavior have a negative attribute and 'great news value' which are likely to be reported through the media, and help to reinforce the negativity of the public.
The spread of rumors and fake news can also be said to be the result of media reporting practices and human cognitive bias. Consequently, both the press that produces the news and the public, the consumer of the news, should avoid making judgments based on partial information.
Walter Lippmann, author of "Public Opinion" is read as a classic in the field of mass communication said: "Humans use 'pictures in our heads' to understand complex social phenomena. These pictures are for the most part transmitted to us by the media. Information on objects that we cannot directly experience in our daily life is obtained through the media, and the information provided has a profound influence on the formation of our knowledge. When society thinks about incidents or people, the press brings up the concepts necessary to understand it. These concepts come together to form a framework for each of us to understand the object.
Although the media plays a large role in constructing our knowledge system, it requires each individual's effort to fill in what is incomplete in what we know with correct information and to prepare a comprehensive framework for understanding. Let's think of the pictures we have in our heads about an object. Let's check whether those pictures are likely to consist of stereotypes, prejudices, or biased information.