Differences in values and worldviews are real, and we shouldn’t pretend they aren’t. But the news shouldn’t capitalize on those differences and pit us against each other — it should inform and allow us to draw our own conclusions.
Stating the facts can easily slide into interpreting them. This might look like providing additional context that the author sees as relevant, excluding information the author sees as unimportant, cherry-picking data that confirms a point-of-view, or other subtle, often subconscious inclusions or exclusions that frame a story in a certain light.
It’s the job of journalists and newsrooms to be conscious of these dynamics, and do their best to mitigate them in their work. If we don’t consciously strive to be inclusive of diverse worldviews, we lose our readers trust, and a shared reality along with it.
When we learn about a new story or development, each of us subconsciously places the new information without our broader worldview. And since each of us has a unique set of experiences we use to interpret that information, we’re all going to view the news a little differently. This is not only natural, but unavoidable (and useful). However, when we’re not mindful of our natural differences, we tend to answer the question “Why do they think that?” with “because they are stupid, ignorant, brainwashed, or evil.”
Newsrooms interested in promoting peace must acknowledge this dynamic, and mitigate the potential negative effects by working to help readers understand those who see the world differently. This brings us closer to peace by providing a better answer to the question “Why do they think that?” — which is that they have different experiences.