Are You Inadvertently Living Inside a Political Media Bubble?

By Kassandra Lopez, Global Strategic Communications graduate student at the University of Florida

The title of this article likely causes visions of Jake Gylennhal in a bubble suit to dance around your mind. But just as his character Jimmy realized in the cult classic “Bubble Boy, his parents had good intentions when they sheltered him from the rest of the world. I pose the question, are we executing good intentions towards ourselves (and our mental wellbeing) when we remain inside a particular “media bubble” of our own construction?

The ability to speak freely is not without consequence in America, especially to those who make it their life’s work to share truths. Journalists’ reputations and that of CNN in particular, has been severely under pressure from the harsh rhetoric and “fake news” frenzy” that has defined the current political climate. Being given the name of “the Enemy of the People” by President Trump has only added fuel to the distrust fire.

Curing a press conference in March surrounding COVID-19, when CNN reporter Jim Acosta pressed the president regarding his handling of the crisis, the president retorted with “…And it’s people like you and CNN that say things like that that is why people just don’t want to listen to CNN anymore”. It’s this type of fiery discourse that is damaging not only CNN’s reputation but the institution of journalism as a whole, as it has contributed to an overall decline in trust in the media.

According to Business Insider, in 2019, only 53% of all adults found CNN to be a credible news source. When examining across party lines, 74% of Democrats said CNN is credible, but only 32% of republicans could say the same. To put it into context, the 32% is down nearly 20 percentage points since 2016, providing quantitative proof that the current political climate has contributed to CNN’s declining perceived credibility.

This distrust in the media and ongoing trend toward ludicrous headlines to encourage clicks has driven many people to isolate themselves in media bubbles. When there’s truly only one or two sources you can trust, this happens rather easily. We see this skepticism and inadvertent bubble building through the percentages of persons who choose to only consume media that skews to behoove a specific party. The Pew Research center developed eloquent research on the matter claiming the following “…20% of all Democrats and independents who lean Democratic get political news only from outlets with left-leaning audiences. Similarly, 18% of all Republicans and independents who lean Republican get their political news only from outlets with right-leaning audiences.”

In order for individuals to maintain an objective stance, they must be empowered to make educated comments. If we hope as a nation to make adequate and educated choices in regards to politics, this deficiency needs to be addressed. As Americans, we need to see above political division and not become victims of it. If you’ve identified yourself as living in a political media bubble, fear not, the situation can be quickly remedied. By choosing to encouraged our own curiosity, and seek out various sources of credible information and consume news that abides by the four foundations of ethical journalism. These are to seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent.

First-gen Cuban and Argentine. Full-time Marketer. BA in Humanities/Cultural Traditions, Art History + Anthro. MA in Global Communications + Social Media