Langara staff and students debate trust in today’s media

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Reported by Sam Mowers

Many feel reading a variety of news leads to a diverse media diet. Photo by Bonnie Lee La Madeleine

Every day, information from the web, print and radio overwhelms people trying to navigate current affairs.

According to data from LifeHack.com, the average social media user processes 285 pieces of content every day. Many Canadians get their news from social media sites like Facebook, which generates a news feed using an algorithm based on what a user already “likes.”

In a Gallup poll published in September 2016, it found that only 32 per cent of Americans have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in mainstream media.

“I know fake news exists out there on the Internet,” said Langara general studies student Sam MacTavish. “I’ll go to CBC or something reliable if I’m looking for a precise news story.”

What do Langara political science professors think?

Stephen Phillips, a Langara political science instructor, said that people should consult a broad range of news sources to have an accurate picture of what’s going on.

Lealle Ruhl, Langara College political science instructor. Photo by Sam Mowers

“Where you have a marketplace of ideas, it’s incumbent on the conscientious citizen to consult a variety of sources,” he said. The problem for most readers is knowing where their news is coming from.

Only five corporations own 73.3 per cent of Canadian media outlets.

“People will think that they have a diverse media diet because they read three or four newspapers,” said Langara political science instructor Lealle Ruhl. “You’d think that that’s pretty eclectic except that all of those are owned by the same company.”

Visiting alternative news sources presents people with different perspectives and ways of thinking.

“I think that a diverse media diet is a good inoculation against any one perspective dominating,” said Ruhl.

Check out this week’s podcast related to our current issues and ideas page.

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