As with anything in life, knowledge is power. Yet increasingly, in today’s world of fake news and spambot Twitter trolls, knowledge itself can feel increasingly, infuriatingly subjective and malleable. I often find myself Googling any news story that doesn’t sound ‘quite right’, not to learn more, but to weigh its trustworthiness and see which reputable outlets have covered it. It’s a depressing calculus to repeat each day and feels bleaker still when you realize that most people don’t know who owns their news sources.
That’s not to say that a news organization is implicitly biased on behalf of its ownership. Indeed, what sets reputable sources apart from propaganda purveyors is their commitment to delivering the unvarnished truth, with their integrity being their primary commodity.
Then, there is the role of the journalists themselves. They often push the boundaries of what their employers want to be published and are either met with thunderous acclaim (see: Rachel Maddow interviewing Ronan Farrow and taking her employer NBC to task), or ruin (see: the Deadspin staff resigning en masse).
Another complicating factor can be direct political interests which intersect – say, Michael Bloomberg, owner of Bloomberg News, running for president. Will his ability to publish his own positive news coverage help, or are readers savvy enough that the perceived bias will turn them off? Either way, it helps to know who owns the news before you read it.