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Breaking the Bubble of Funneled News

Bob Seay
May 10, 2014

Did you see that story on Yahoo this morning?

Chances are you didnít, or at least you didnít see the same version of the story I saw. Facebook, Google, and the other newsfeeds do their best to make sure that the headlines we see are consistent with the headlines weíve chosen in the past. Every time you click a link, you dive a little deeper into the funneled media bubble. If you visit Huffington Post or The New York Times, then you probably see more liberal headlines in your newsfeed. If you are a frequent reader of Fox or American Spectator, then you can expect to see more conservative content. Every story is designed to reinforce the beliefs, biases, and prejudices that the reader already has. The same is true of search results. It can be extremely difficult to find an opposing opinion once Google has profiled you and decided what you should want to see.

Catchy slogans about keeping you informed notwithstanding, the primary purpose of most news sites is not to bring you the news, but to sell you something - and news organizations know that they canít sell you anything if you donít like the headlines on their page. Consequently, media companies analyze your behavior and funnel the stories they think you will like into your newsfeed. Itís the same process that Amazon uses to recommend books, music, and other products, except that with news stories you really donít have a choice. The Media Curators have already decided which point of view you will consume. Rather than consider opposing views, we are constantly reassured that ours is the only possible perspective.

Eventually, we are all lulled into this false sense of believing that everyone agrees with us. Everyone thinks like you think. Everyone feels like you feel. This is why otherwise intelligent Conservatives couldnít believe it when Obama was elected President and then reelected. Liberal voters in some states were shocked that their neighbors elected a Republican governor. These highly targeted people panicked because they had no warning about what was coming. Any information that might have prepared them for such a devastating crisis of faith had been blocked and was kept safely outside their information bubble.

Critical thinking has been replaced with righteous indignation. We live in two separate universes with two separate sets of facts. It's not surprising that we disagree so vehemently on almost every possible topic.

This is not to say that all media outlets or even all perspectives are created equal. They aren't. There are "news" outlets on both sides of the spectrum that exist for the sole purpose of supplying constant streams of not-so-thinly veiled propaganda. There are some perspectives that are simply uniformed and ignorant, including some of the perspectives on websites that are included on the NewsPrism list. The point of NewsPrism is not to be yet another curator for funneled media. The point is to make the reader aware of the information and misinformation that is out there so that when your crazy uncle starts his rant, you can make an informed response about his perspective before you rip his argument to shreds.

NewsPrism.com is designed to break the media funnel. Use this link to visit the front page of the site to compare headlines, articles, and opinions from over 400 different websites. Here, you can compare how different media outlets handle a particular story. You can compare how the New York Times covers a story like Benghazi to how that same story with presumably the same facts is covered by Fox News. Even a glance at the front pages of different websites reveals different priorities and perspectives. These differences and the inaccuracies that are required to support them are even more noticeable on the extreme sides of the spectrum. One of the problems with online media is that there is nothing to distinguish the lunatic fringe from mainstream thought. NewsPrism.com is here to help with that. Think of it as a homepage for news junkies.

I resent any computer program which tries to put me in a box. I donít appreciate anyone feeding me ďagreeableĒ news stories any more than I would appreciate them trying to force feed me Brussels sprouts. You shouldnít either. Actually, I enjoy Brussels sprouts more, especially with butter and lemon.

The Internet was supposed to bring us together, not push us apart. Break the bubble! Staying informed is hard work. NewsPrism.com is here to make it a little easier.

 
 

©2014 by Bob Seay
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