When I was in high school, the only major news channel on the TV in my home was Fox News. If anything happened — as is and was the case with news — I could bet that the first channel I’d see was Fox News.
A Pew Research study released Jan. 18 shows that Trump’s and Clinton’s voters went to different news sources in order to receive their news during the 2016 campaign cycle. More than 4,000 were surveyed, and researchers found that 19 percent of those voters watched Fox News and 13 percent watched CNN.
This study, while it may not be surprising to some, helps prove the point that everyone has preferred news organizations.
Why do we only look at or follow certain news organizations?
While there was nothing technically wrong with my news habits at the time, I had an “awakening” of sorts once I came here to school.
My first writing class required that I look at news from all different sources. My previous sources of local news and Fox News just didn’t cut it any more.
My preferred news sources quickly changed as I began reading CNN, The Associated Press, BBC and more, finding both sides to a story.
Forty percent of Trump voters watched Fox News, 8 percent watched CNN, and 7 percent viewed Facebook during the election season. Eighteen percent of Clinton voters watched CNN, 9 percent watched MSNBC, and 8 percent viewed Facebook, according to the Pew Research study.
We enjoy our news for our personal reasons, and I believe it all comes down to one common idea.
Eric Newton, author of Searchlights and Sunglasses: Field Notes from the Digital Age of Journalism, wrote about a concept he calls “comfort news.”
He compares the concept of “comfort news” to “comfort food,” meaning that we go find news where we feel most comfortable, similar to choosing foods we hold special to ourselves.
“A lot of comfort news is political,” Newton writes. “Maps of the blogosphere show that liberals link to liberals, and conservatives link to conservatives.”
We choose the news we want to hear. That’s a plus to social media and the plethora of news organizations today: we can follow organizations we like and agree with.
Most, if not all, social platforms have an algorithm that will help show you content they think you’ll like. If we like watching puppy videos, our feeds will show more puppy videos than someone who prefers cats or sloths.
Editors at news organizations want to hear what the viewers or readers want to hear or read. They thrive on audience interaction because they tailor their content to their audience, and the audience tailors the content as well.
While reading your “comfort news” is comforting — as the name suggests — we often become too locked in our opinions, and we have a harder time having an open mind.
I suggest that while we look toward our “comfort news,” we also look for “uncomfortable news.”
This simply means to step outside of the normal media-consumption comfort zone that we each establish for ourselves. Instead of looking at only one news source, add another. Compare the similarities and differences and seek for the truth.
Once I started doing this in my own life, I found myself to be more knowledgeable about topics, teaching myself to discern between true and false.
When we begin finding new comfort news, will find that we’re still choosing our own news.
What will you read?