The AIM Parent’s Guide to New Media
September 8, 2022
As students return to school, Accuracy in Media has been monitoring the way students across the country have been consuming information – or in many cases, misinformation. As a result, we prepared a guide for parents on where their children may be picking up misinformation.
New media outlets repeatedly report only the information that meets their political ideal. Some of that information shows up in the classroom thanks to teachers using them in lesson plans. Others, students will find on their own.
Exploration and gaining knowledge and information from different sources is part of these students finding their place in the world. But not all sources are created equal – and these new media outlets, which are largely web-based, gain traction on social media, and don’t face the same scrutiny more established media outlets garner – have found a great spot in targeting users that may not seek further information, or may not know to
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it shows several problems we’ve reported on in the past – problems that, using these sources alone, readers would be left with false or incomplete information.
Sometimes it’s just silly, as when HuffPost published a piece by a Florida professor about how she was going to Defy The Man and teach as she wished — apparently not realizing that the law she was to defy applied to K-12, not to her or her students. Or Cosmopolitan‘s argument that student loans should be forgiven so a young lady can go on vacation. Or Mic‘s claim that anyone who prays is too biased to be a judge, rather than missing the point of the First Amendment point entirely.
But the level of mistruth – dis- and mis- information — now seems to mean something different. Vice tells us that Critical Race Theory isn’t taught in schools – then details how it changes what is taught in schools. Much of what we uncover is about schools and what is taught in them, of course – it’s one of the great battlegrounds inside the American system. Salon actually argues that schools shouldn’t have to reveal what they teach, because that would reveal that they teach socialism. HuffPost completely misses a basic point about sex education – everyone agrees with age-appropriate such education, what the argument is about is what is appropriate for which age? Teen Vogue fails to note that its argument in favor of public schools is solely and entirely teachers’ union propaganda.
We can crank it up another notch as well. Glamour demands that the Supreme Court absent itself from deciding upon certain areas of life – as Glamour is complaining about the Supreme Court doing exactly that over abortion. Teen Vogue completely ignores that whatever is done about climate change will have costs. Doing anything, ever, has benefits and costs; we fail the young if we don’t point this out.
There’s a journalistic sin called “burying the lede,” which means putting the important information so far down in the piece that most people never get that far. By doing that an extreme headline can be used and an incorrect impression made. Vox and BuzzFeed News are both guilty of this in favor of parroting the party line.
There’s also the ever-popular idea of using a hugely biased – politically partisan even – source but pretending they’re just an “expert.” NowThis News, Bustle, Seventeen, HuffPost, and Business Insider have all used this ploy. By describing a source as an “expert,” someone with that political axe to grind that political position becomes the middle way, the science, against which all else is just wrong. Except that it so often isn’t.
And these are not minor outlets – each of them has a huge audience online. BuzzFeed News has 18 million monthly visits, and more than 13 million people follow its content on Facebook. Seventeen and Teen Vogue each get more than 6 million page views per month, but given their niche among teens and preteens and reach on social media, their articles go much farther than that.
Our point here is not to provide a detailed guide to the horrors of the American media landscape – Accuracy in Media has a whole website to do that. Rather, just to point out that there are problems with many of the outlets that students consume.
There are those who want to convince your children of all sorts of things, many of which are simply untrue.