An accepted truth: contemporary society is increasingly polarized. The common explanation is the media people consume is biased. However, we believe media bias has existed since the media’s inception. The difference today is how people consume media. Prior to cable and the internet, people read newspapers while eating breakfast at their kitchen tables. They watched a handful of broadcast television stations while lounging in their living rooms. Although people within a certain city or town could have different political views, they most likely read and heard similar news. In today’s world, with cable news and social media, people living in the same place could consume news from a wide range of sources, all with completely different biases. Instead of disagreeing on how best to respond to current events, people now disagree on the reality of current events themselves. This situation is no accident. Cable news networks and social media companies make money through engagement. People gravitate towards media they agree with; at the same time, it is in a company’s best interest to show its audience news they will agree with.
Our goal at Media Bubbles is to afford people the opportunity to see outside of these filter bubbles. Instead of pining for a "simpler time", we believe society will need to adapt to the current media landscape. We provide an easy-to-use search function to sort news headlines from various sources and political biases in one streamlined place. A visual of news "across the spectrum" presents users a better snapshot of events under various filters. Media companies will have to compete with each other instead of isolating their audiences. Try out our search tool to see for yourself. We hope this will be the first step towards living in a shared reality.
How We Got Started
Around 2017, we noticed a media bias chart being shared on social media, placing various news sources into categories of political bias. Soon after, of course, other charts were posted showing the "correct" way the first chart should have been arranged. Seeing this led us to a question, "What does it mean for a source to be biased?" By that time, it seemed understood that the major broadcast networks were center-left, MSNBC is liberal, and Fox News is conservative. But what does that mean in practice? Are sources simply providing differing analysis on the same events? Are they elevating stories that fit with their views and burying or not reporting on others? Are they using different words that are meant to lead their readers to certain conclusions? This site was created as a way to compare these various news sources and highlight how they each express bias.