Shrugging Off Bias, Montclair Students Turn to Social Media For Their News

Mirabelle Johnson, Staff Writer

Since November’s election, news consumption in America has been off the charts. [STAT?] At the same time, the nation has become increasingly polarized. This surge in consumption and this widening gap between the right and the left raises a simple question: Where are people getting their information and how is that impacting their opinions and interpretation of the current moment?

An informal survey of Montclair High School students sheds light on how today’s students are navigating the complex media landscape. 

According to a survey conducted by The Mountaineer last month, over half the [#?]students interviewed prefer to gather their news from social media. This makes sense, as social media platforms are highly connective and can make news more digestible or relatable [what does this mean?].

However, there are many negatives to news shared in this manner. One is that misinformation can spread rapidly through applications such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Tenth grader Lindsay Otero told us that she has “had some doubts about news on social media, when things are biased and so left wing that they just seem unrealistic.” However, explicitly partisan organizations are not the only ones who can twist a story. Sophomore Maya Lerner believes that, “truly unbiased news is impossible to come by” and that “our opinion is conveyed through our writing, even if we don’t mean for it to happen.”

It can be easy to shrug off bias, and that is what many people do nowadays. When asked if they cared about the slant of their news, only 25% of students gave a direct “yes”. History teacher John Mancinelli told us he sees a similar pattern with his parents’ generation. He called it, “growing descent and a lack of critical thinking.” In other words, it pleases us to read what we want to hear, which may not be reality.

People have a tendency to avoid researching opinions they disagree with and facts that make them uncomfortable, a phenomena known as confirmation bias. All too often, media consumers place trust in one news source. However, by relying more on certain news publications over others we are creating a bubble around ourselves. Furthermore, when we never question our own political views, we might reach a point where we forget the reason for our beliefs. Or worse, we stop seeing the other side as human. That is why it is our job as the consumer of news to challenge ourselves and read from a variety of perspectives in order to get the most balanced version of the truth.