November 19, 2016


After election, Americans try to pop their news bubbles : Many Americans, especially on the left, are trying to wean themselves off fake news and social-media feeds designed to show them what they want to see. (Harry Bruinius,  NOVEMBER 19, 2016, CS Monitor)

Indeed, after the election, a number of Americans, particularly those on the left still bewildered by the election of Mr. Trump, have begun to question the mainstream coverage that seemed to confidently assume that Hillary Clinton would emerge as the 45th president.  

At the same time, too, the proliferation of unreliable information has approached what many consider to be near-crisis proportions. In addition to the frustration many have felt with the mainstream press, there is growing concern social media, designed to entice engagement rather than offer factual information, has spawned the viral spread of deliberately misleading and fake news.

The problem of "news bubbles" is in many ways part of a larger social trend that some scholars have called "the big sort" - a troubling trend in which like-minded citizens, with mostly similar cultural preferences and political world views, cluster together in walled gardens - including neighborhoods, places of worship, and information sources.

And as over six out of 10 American adults now turn to their algorithm-driven social media feeds to get news, according to Pew Research, conservatives and liberals often have radically conflicting sources of information, as a Wall Street Journal side-by-side graphic analysis of blue feeds and red feeds recently showed.

It's a trend with troubling implications, scholars say. Long considered a bedrock of democracy, the "free press," enshrined in the US Constitution and considered an informal "fourth estate" of government, is supposed to cover and provide context for the actions of the three branches of government.

"Americans are ... likely to get what they do know, or think they know, from an echo chamber," says Krista Jenkins, professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., via email.

Posted by at November 19, 2016 8:12 AM