The FCC made front-page news on Thursday by voting 3-2 in favor of a plan that would enforce net neutrality in the United States.
While the topic of net neutrality is very important, what is interesting is how it is currently being portrayed in the media. What net neutrality is and what it looks like is a controversial issue right now, with various media groups offering wildly different perspectives on the topic.
The headlines from Thursday demonstrate just how different interpretations of the ruling are: Fox News’ website declared: “FCC approves Obama-backed Internet regulations, critics decry ‘power grab.’”
Meanwhile, MSNBC’s headline read: “Internet free for all: FCC passes net neutrality rules.”
These are two dramatically different narratives to the same event, which prove not only how controversial the subject is, but also how unreliable it can be getting news from only one source.
Exclusively reading Fox News is likely to produce a negative opinion of the decision from the reader, while exclusively reading MSNBC is likely to produce a positive one.
Gathering information from only one source could result in the voting public having strong opinions one way or the other without fully understanding the subject. Without reading other articles, it is impossible to get a full understanding of what exactly net neutrality is and whether it is good, bad or somewhere in between, because at least some of the coverage appears to be favoring one side or the other.
In fact, not only can getting news from one source bias a person’s viewpoints, it can even result in a person being less informed.
The infamous 2012 Fairleigh Dickinson University survey suggested that people who exclusively watch Fox News or MSNBC are less informed about international events than people who watch no news at all.
Also worth noting is the data that shows that those people who watch “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central are more informed than everyone except those exclusively listening to NPR.
This should demonstrate just how important it is to take the time to see what multiple news outlets have to say about any given story and when doing this no one news source should be excluded from research.
As for net neutrality itself, if you do not know much about it, go do some research. If there is one thing that nearly every major news outlet agrees on, it is that this is an important topic.
Anyone interested in the future of the Internet should look up articles with different perspectives on the subject to construct his or her own opinion.