Nadine Ajaka wrote a must-read article in The Atlantic earlier this week, called "Paris, Beirut, and the Language Used to Describe Terrorism."
In the article, she points out that the words journalists choose to describe world happenings completely shape how society views these events, and in turn, society's reactions.
Taking a step back from word choice, I thought this would be a good opportunity to remind readers that news sources each have their own agendas and influences. They can easily put their own spin on the news by what they choose to report and feature, and how they choose to present each story.
While this is true of all news forms—television, internet, newspapers, radio, etc.—I used the websites of three news sources to illustrate this point today.
On November 20, 2015 at 11:35 AM (local time in Montpellier, France), I took the screenshots below of:
- The Guardian — admittedly my preferred online news source the past few years
- CNN — a name I used to associate with "real news" in my childhood
- Le Monde — a French daily newspaper
Take a look and compare:
Here was the very next full screen when you scroll down on CNN:
The next time you hear a news story—whether on TV, online, Facebook, radio, etc.—consider where it came from. What are their motives? Was the story strictly fact-based, or did certain language add an opinion to it? Where is the news company based? Who is their target audience?
Look up the same news story on a variety of other sources and compare.