One example of bias in the news

A study was done on bias about climate change in three major news sources including CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. Today, scientists mostly agree that climate change is a real, human caused problem. Media coverage in general in the US does not do a great job at representing this because media usually downplays the issue. The Project for Excellence in Journalism has found that over half (52%) of news stories from the three major news sources mentioned only covered one side of an issue. This leads to increased polarization in a society that already has difficulty coming together.

Some statistics:

33% of climate change stories from Fox News challenged its existence
Virtually no stories from CNN or MSNBC did

Confirmation of climate change:
Fox- 21%
CNN- 71%
MSNBC- 52%

Claimed that climate change is caused by humans:
Fox- 14%
CNN- 61%
MSNBC- 33%

Claimed that climate change was natural:
Fox- 29%
CNN- 3%

Featured guests on Fox:
Climate change believers- 39.6%
Climate change doubters- 46.3%
Undetermined- 14.1%

Featured guests on CNN:
Climate change believers- 77.4%
Climate change doubters- 17%
Undetermined- 5.7%

Featured guests on MSNBC
Climate change believers- 55%
Climate change doubters- 15%
No stance- 30%

Key takeaways: Out of the three sources, (Fox, CNN, and MSNBC) MSNBC is the place to go if you are looking for the least biased news on this particular issue. If you are reading to be able to engage in intelligent conversation about this topic, or any topic in general, it is best to read from several different sources to get the whole story

How to distinguish fake news

To review:

1. Research the source

2. Read beyond the headline before you trust what it is saying. Even legitimate news articles have flashy headlines that are meant to grab the reader’s attention.

3. Research the author or any awards the article claims they have won. Is this a real person? Did they actually accomplish what the source claims that they have?

4. Sometimes fake news cites real sources. It is important to look into these sources. First, you must make sure they are actually real sources. Second, you should make sure they actually back up the claims being made.

5. Check the date. Fake news often uses old sources and makes them seem relevant to today.

6. Check your bias. Just because something agrees or disagrees with your biases, does not automatically make it true or false.

7. Use fact checking sources.        FactCheck      Washington Post Fact Checker

The Macedonian Fake News Scam

Throughout the campaigning leading up to the United States 2018 presidential election, misinformation and fake news took over news outlets and spawned a lot of issues. Anyone can write whatever nonsense they think will garner them a giggle or a like or get them blocked on Twitter, but why is there so much fake news and where does it come from? Well, a great deal of it came from a small town in Macedonia.

In Veles, dozens of teenagers from this small town construct their own news sites and publish false news stories focusing on the United States election. Several boys have come forward to talk about their experience with journalists under pseudonyms, The Wired focused a boy who called himself Boris. He was inspired by his friend’s successful health website that provided fake home remedies and so he founded several websites to fill with false and plagiarized articles on American politics. CNN interviewed a boy who went by Mikhail whose work was trafficked over social media. Mikhail claimed to make around $2,500 a day from the automated advertising engines on his websites whereas Boris garnered over $16,000 in his first four months.

Mikhail and Boris are just two of the many young “journalists” in Veles as the town was “the registered home of at least 100 pro-Trump websites, many of them filled with sensationalist, utterly fake news” (Subramanian, 2017). Mirko Ceselkoski has over ten years of experience in running websites directed toward American audiences, beginning from celebrities and muscle cars until he discovered the virality of fake news. He now works to coach students how to earn money through fake news sites, boasting that at least four of his students are millions, though the claims cannot be verified (Davey-Attlee, n.d.). These writers carefully chose topics that would attract the most views and many decided to focus on Pro-Trump stories, not because they cared about Trump’s policies, but because his name was sensationalized. Boris found that Bernie supporters were harder to fool without some sort of proof, so Boris decided to completely focus on a Pro-Trump audience as they had more Facebook groups and appeared to trust his stories more easily (Subramanian, 2017). These groups were more receptive to such subjects as Hillary Clinton’s imminent criminal indictment and as the pope’s approval of Trump.

Macedonia’s unemployment rate is about 24% and the average monthly salary is $371. Veles is a small town in the center of the country that slowly declined since Macedonia’s independence in 1991, the town also once boasted the title of the second most polluted town in Yugoslavia. Boris comments that “We can’t make money here with a real job,” such as skilled trade careers or factory jobs, “This Google AdSense work is not a real job.”  His first four months of his online work garnered over eleven times the amount of money that the average Macedonian citizen made, and many writers where earning more in one month than the average citizen would make in their lifetime. Boris chose to take on a dishonest job and while he doesn’t believe he had any part in the outcome of the election, as he was just repeating others’ thoughts on a random website, he can’t help but care about the results, stating that “some crazy man has won the election. Maybe the guy will start World War III” (Subramanian, 2017).

The Wired states “the election summoned forth the energies of countless alt-right websites in the US, which manufactured white-label falsehoods disguised as news on an industrial scale. Across the spectrum of right-wing media—from Trump’s own concise lies on Twitter to the organized prevarication of Breitbart News and—ideology beat back the truth” (Subramanian, 2017). Our society is easily persuaded by the internet as we aren’t educated enough to know how to identify valid sources and biases. We ourselves, as viewers, tend to be biased in how search for information, as we want sources to back up our ideas rather than tell us that we are wrong. That is the audience that Boris would aim for, supporting one’s thoughts with lies that feed and enforce their point of view. Boris’s stories are an example of why and how fake news is spread, but also the impact of this false information and how his content possibly even influenced some percentage of the election votes.


Davey-Attlee, F., & Soares, I. (n.d.). The fake news machine: Inside a town gearing up for 2020. Retrieved from

Subramanian, S. (2017, May 01). The Macedonian Teens Who Mastered Fake News. Retrieved from

Partisan Selective Exposure (PSE)

Partisan selective exposure occurs when people choose to only choose to consume news that supports their existing ideological views. This is a form of cognitive dissonance where people do not seek out sources that challenge their existing beliefs. Both the politically elite and the average person are found to have increased PSE since 2000. This was also found in both Democrats and Republicans, however, the most extreme increase was in the group that identified themselves as “extreme conservatives.” PSE is a problem because it leads to different factual beliefs, which makes it difficult for everyone to come together to reach a decision. In the past, PSE could have been a result of not having access to more that one source of news. Today, with the internet and other technology we have, this is not a factor.

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