Students and faculty in the “arts neighborhood” of the University of Oregon see journalism as a necessity that must be interpreted from multiple sides of a political spectrum and background.
A survey of ten people in the music, theater, architecture, and dance departments revealed that they rely primarily on web and print media for news, but often question its credibility. Many said they often feel the need to compare different publications’ viewpoints and versions of a story.
“[The media] all have a bias,” sophomore Jeffrey Lonergan said. “It’s up to consumers to take both accounts and then work out their own opinions about them.”
Those surveyed said they did lean toward certain sources; six out of ten people said they read and trusted the New York Times for its news stories. All of those who read the New York Times stated, however, that they read it online.
On average, survey participants said they spent about 3-4 hours online per day. Eight participants said they spend 1-2 hours reading print magazines, newspapers, and/or books per day, the remaining two reading print “every once in a while” or “a couple times a week.”
These numbers were also reflected in how participants consume news. Eight out of ten people surveyed said they received news from Facebook and other social media websites. However, some said that such news isn’t usually hard news, but rather dramatic stories or entertainment news linked by friends. Participants said that such media is not always representative of a whole story.
“I get news from [Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter], which is biased because all of my friends generally have the same views as me,” senior art and Japanese major Dorothy Siemens said. “I’m completely aware that I’m biased, [but] I usually lean toward media in my bias.”
Some participants said they usually recognize the bias in themselves and media, offering their own views for why such bias occurs. “I think that media is supposed to be unbiased, but isn’t,” sophomore and choral music education major Katrina Allen said. “Sometimes, the facts are constructed based on whoever’s running the media corporation.”
Given the hypothetical situation of reading two conflicting articles in the Daily Emerald and the Register-Guard about police and UO students, survey participants had different views about which side to believe.
“The Oregon Daily Emerald is more relatable to being a student,” Lonergan said. “It makes me feel like I have more of a connection to it.”
Siemens said reliability isn’t the only factor, instead worrying that student proximity to the issue could skew the facts. “The Daily Emerald, I feel, tends to be more hot-headed about issues, and less bipartisan,” Siemens said.
David Mason, director of facilities for UO’s School of Music and Dance put it this way: “I would probably look at both with an equal amount of skepticism and hopefully take into account the perspective of not just the reporter, but also where the [point of view] the information comes from.”