For anyone interested in things like politics, society, religion, etc., it is often difficult to accept that the information we are receiving might be coming from biased sources. We all like to
hold faith in the idea that the journalists we look to for insight about the world around us are presenting nothing more than neutral, hard-hitting facts. Unfortunately, however, that is too rarely the case. After all, we are only human, and as much as we are inclined to look at the media as some great, independent, self-fulfilling entity, the fact of the matter is that it is people who keep this machine running—real, living, breathing human beings with individual experiences, brain chemistries, educations, ideas and opinions. Try as one might, it is next to impossible to deliver anything of value that is devoid of your own figurative fingerprint. It is, arguably, our emotion, our experience, and our education that form every singular idea we have. That is how we prioritize what is important and what is not. It is how we decide which facts are important enough to include, which moments are important enough to capture on film, and which stories are essential enough to put on the front page. Regardless of what one might think about the media, it all comes down to individual human decision.
Moreover, we, as humans, seem to naturally default to those areas that we find comfort in—places of camaraderie, communion, self-affirmation and self-improvement. We try, as often as possible, to avoid situations that are harmful to our success, happiness and overall well-being. As a result, we tend to neglect those people and ideas that might seem threatening. It’s our “fight or flight” instinct. If you’re gay, chances are you aren’t going to actively seek out the company of violent homophones. If you’re a person of color (any color, that is), you most likely won’t accept an open dinner invitation from a group of white supremacists. Similarly, rarely do we ever seek out stories and viewpoints that run contrary to our own. I, like anyone, am guilty as charged. As a self-professed non-partisan liberal, my default news source (and predictably so) is NPR, along with a handful of other blogs on feminism and human rights. I wouldn’t be caught dead reading Fox News, and I’m sure none of my conservative friends would ever even consider touching the Huffington Post.
What I’m saying here isn’t really a secret. Almost all of us educated, free-thinking, political whistleblowers realize that we’re selling ourselves short. So how do we fix it? I have scoured the Internet for recommendations on unbiased, trustworthy news sources. While the majority of respondents echo the same sentiments as above (“There’s no such thing as an unbiased news source!”), a few notable contenders have proved themselves somewhat worthy. What follows is a concise list of these nonpartisan think tanks. Some I visit regularly, others simply come at the recommendation of others. As always, feel free to criticize any of these choices, and make your own suggestions in the forum or in the comments below.
Wikinews is perhaps one of the best places to find original and unbiased news stories. Like Wikipedia, it allows for collaboration with and feedback from the general public, ensuring that differing viewpoints are heard, and that lies and partisanship are actively called out.
AlterNet is one of my favorite online news sources. Their mission describes them as “award-winning news magazine and online community that creates original journalism and amplifies the best of hundreds of other independent media sources.” Their goal is “to inspire action and advocacy on the environment, human rights and civil liberties, social justice, media, health care issues, and more.”
The Real News
The Real News is another one of my favorites. The header of their website proclaims, “NO GOVERNMENT, CORPORATE OR ADVERTISING $$$,” which stands as a marker of self-proclaimed nonpartisanship, political and otherwise. They report on news from all around the world, offering stories ignored by most other major outlets.
Reuters, an international news agency stationed in London, is so dedicated to journalistic objectivity that they sometimes receive criticism for it. After the September 11 attacks, they were accused of insensitivity because of their reluctance to use the word “terrorist” except when in quotes.
The Independent is a U.K. newspaper that reports on news from around the world. While its status as “independent” often garners accusations of liberalism, the paper does not endorse any political party and offers a wide range of views on different topics.