Beat bias by reading more

April Procell / THE FLARE

ASHTON JOHNSON, ASHLEY MORALES & KHANDICE HORN
Staff Writers

There are 11 days until Election Day. It’s a national race that requires our country’s attention now more than ever.

“I know we say every presidential election is critical, but it seems to me that this one is more critical than ones that have been in the past,” said Dr. Jeff Stanglin, government instructor.

Today’s slogans, commercials, TV commentary and use of the Internet dominate the political campaigns and as a result, it is often difficult to look past what the media have to say about each candidate.

It all comes down to research and personal opinion built on research.

“Of course the most convenient way is through the Internet, but the danger there is stumbling upon biased sources, so it’s kind of hard to sift through those websites,” Stanglin said. “I recommend going to a mainstream website.”

Websites such as CNN, FOX, BBC and USA Today have election centers with all candidates’ views and often their own form of opinion.

Government instructor Rick Moser concurs with Stanglin.

“While the Internet is a great source of information, [students] have to be cautious about what websites they go to for facts on a candidate,” said Moser. “When they look at a website, notice who established the site and what their purpose was in doing so. For example, if you go to Obama.com you will get nothing but a rosy picture of the candidate, likewise for Romney.”

Candidates are judged by the positions they take on specific issues and the leadership qualities and experiences they could bring to office. The first step in choosing a candidate is to decide the issues one cares about and the qualities one would like to see in the leaders of our country.

“Anytime you hear a candidate tell you something good he has done, or something bad the other candidate has done, check the facts,” Moser said. “You can do this by going to websites that devote themselves to being ‘fact checkers’ such as Snopes.com or factcheck.org. Even then you have to be careful. Fact checking sites run by media companies are slanted either liberal or conservative.”

Stanglin and Moser encourage their students to watch the news and pay attention to what each candidate has to say.

“Pay attention to the news. Don’t watch biased news. Watch CBS, ABC or NBC and just pay attention to what the candidates are saying and that should give you good enough information to make an informed decision,” Stanglin said.

Moser has encouraged his students to spend more time watching different news reports to form their decisions.

“Watch FOX news then watch MSNBC. They will see that they both report the same story, but both provide different views,” Moser said. “That is because FOX is a conservative channel and MSNBC is a liberal channel. After they have done that, start checking the facts that were presented.”

Government instructors have pushed their students not to focus solely on one issue.

“We hear so much of that in politics today, ‘this candidate is for that so I am going to vote for the other,’ I would encourage everybody not to just focus on one issue,” Stanglin said. “Of course the economy is the big issue in this election and that’s important, but actually look at what each candidate wants to do regarding the economy. But there are other issues out there as well.”

With this election focusing on multiple issues, the voters between the ages of 18-30 have more say than the older generations.

“These people are going to be making decisions that are going to affect your life. Think about what is at stake right now,” Stanglin said. “We’re talking about Social Security, Medicare which affects everybody. These are programs that every American is a part of and whoever is making these decisions is going to affect how much is going to be available to you in the future. That’s really important, but there’s also more immediate issues.”

Will Massey, Longview freshman, is a 37-year-old student who has participated in five presidential elections. Massey informs himself of the candidates by watching the debates and doing online research.

“People need to vote for the person, not down the party or racial lines,” Massey said.

He makes a point that this election will very much affect the college freshmen.

“They need to find the candidate that they will be most comfortable with for the next four years,” Massey said. “When they graduate from school, whoever is elected will be in charge of the economy.”

For many students, voting may not seem important, something that will affect them but all will eventually feel the repercussions of our decisions whether we voted or not. Washington may seem far away but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really close to home.

“Everybody’s vote matters. If you’re voting, you are affecting your future. The fewer the people that vote, the less representative our government becomes because the people who are voting, the people who are informed, they’re the ones that have the most say and so they’re the ones who are influencing the decisions made,” Stanglin said. “It affects your life but you’re not truly being represented if you don’t go vote.”

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