Review: Information products, The New York Times vs. Washington Examiner

Photo Illustration by John Michaelides / Clarion

When we think of products, oftentimes we think of tangible things like smartphones, clothing or food.

Yes, those are all important, but those are not the only types of products we consume.

Information is a product that is distributed in the form of spoken information, written works and videos. Within the realm of information products, there are a few categories: news, educational, and skills-based instruction, among others.

News and news media has been under great scrutiny in the last year as the public began openly questioning the integrity of several outlets.

The phrase “fake news” has become a common expression in social media, becoming so ubiquitous that is now a part of common language.

While it is amusing, it illuminates a cultural questioning of figures of authority within news media begging the question: How do I know I can trust this outlet or newspaper?

Two newspapers immediately come to mind in this analysis of information products: The New York Times and The Washington Examiner.

The first has clearly shown a liberal lean, whereas the latter typically shows a conservative lean.

It is not groundbreaking to note that outlets and newspapers exemplify a certain political allegiance; we see this in their endorsements and the political affiliations of its writers.

However, what is new is the common public catching on to these affiliations and selectively determining where they procure their news. One quick glance at the landing page of these outlets clearly reveals their lean.

On Dec. 5, The New York Times ran this headline: “Trump Administration Touts Border Arrests as Proof of Crackdown on Illegal Immigration.” The same story ran with the headline “Border arrests of illegal immigrants hits lowest level since 1971” in The Washington Examiner.

The headlines are enough to reveal that the former is liberal leaning and the latter is conservative.

So which one do I trust? That is a hard question to answer. Some individuals will seek to trust an outlet that agrees with them; they would like their opinions affirmed.

Others will seek to read both and trust neither. The issue is not necessarily of trust, but rather what do we want from our information products? Information or affirmation.

In this political climate, both reasons are under scrutiny and for good reason.

We should question what we read and the information we receive not on its agreeableness, but on its viability.

The old aphorism is true: “Don’t believe everything you hear” (or in this case, read).

This questioning has propelled writers and news outlets into a spotlight that creates a public comparison of products similar to the product comparison button on the Best Buy website.

In analyzing where we get information, we are more likely to make educated determinations as to what we believe to be true and in turn form adequate conclusions.

By questioning authority figures, we are opening spaces for principled writers that seek to find the truth instead of writing something their readers will agree with.