Why and How to Get a Balanced News/opinion-media Diet

February 28, 2022

Balanced media diet: perspectives from left and right in the scales

This is your friendly periodic reminder that* we all need to consume a balanced diet of journalism including both** liberal and conservative news/opinion sources.

If you’re interested in recommendations: For perspectives from the (reasonable) American right, I recommend The Dispatch, which exists primarily as a Web site and e-mail subscription service (some free, some paid), but also has excellent podcasts, if you need media in listenable form.

For perspectives from the (reasonable) American left, I recommend NPR, which exists primarily as radio pieces (each recording available on demand through their Web site) as well as podcasts, but also has excellent articles, on its Web site, if you need media in readable form.

For international perspectives, I recommend the BBC.

I think it’s important to get information from different sources partly because otherwise you get less information—everyone has a point of view, and like any good lawyer or advocate, news/opinion media tend to mention the facts that support their point of view, and tend to forget to mention some of the facts that are more inconvenient for their point of view…

—and partly because it’s important both for our democracy, and for us personally, for the health of our relationships and our souls, to remember that there is such a thing as (genuine, good-faith) disagreements, that reasonable minds can differ, that different people have different opinions about many things. By definition, that will always be true: Politics means things we disagree about, and the system we have for dealing with those disagreements. People are individuals, which means they think (to some extent) independently, and are bound to come to different conclusions, about any number of questions. Etc.

And partly for those reasons, distinctions between news and opinion sources are always at least partly illusory. Many people try to be objective (which is good) and some people claim to have no positions or opinions (which is less likely), but there are always decisions to be made about which stories to cover, how to choose whom to interview for those stories, etc. With finite resources to devote to such coverage and a finite amount of time in which to get the work done, it is intrinsically impossible for there not to be such decisions to be made, tradeoffs to be weighed. Those decisions are not neutral. To the extent that that means there can never be such a thing as a perfect and perfectly neutral news source, that’s not a bad thing; it just means we have to be aware of that, and get a balanced diet.


* (if we’re going to consume news at all—I think it’s totally reasonable and legitimate not to, whether for your mental health or for other excellent reasons)

** (reasonable, reality-oriented)


Photo credits: Nikodem Nijaki and Wikimedia Commons

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