Radically different opinions don’t disturb me. What does concern me is how starkly different the news is, depending on one’s source of information. I don’t think of it as a major problem that we all might have different reactions to news events. It does alarm me, however, that we all are not seeing some news events at all, based on our media choices.

As an experiment, for 77 days (Nov. 20, 2022-Feb. 3, 2023), I made a point of visiting NBC News and Fox News sites at approximately the same time each day to compare the top 10 headlines.

There are some differences which did not surprise me. By my count, news about Republican Rep. George Santos, who admits to campaign falsehoods, appeared 10 times on NBC and only once on Fox.

Also on Fox, President Biden’s classified documents scandal was featured 28 times; on NBC, 12 times. Reporting on the continued fallout from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was given top-10 headline treatment nine times on NBC. Over on Fox, this was mentioned only once.

Some differences I would not have anticipated.

It appears that who is murdered and how they are murdered makes a difference in coverage, with NBC providing markedly more coverage of recent mass shootings than Fox. The stabbing murder of four college students in Idaho, however, was prominently covered by Fox News – 28 times during this period; 12 times by NBC. The case of a nonfatal school shooting of a teacher in Virginia by a 6-year-old was five times a top-10 headline at NBC, once at Fox. Fox, on the other hand, headlined instances of urban crime vastly more often than NBC did.


A further surprise for me was the extensive coverage provided by NBC of severe weather events (32 times) vs. Fox News coverage (five times). A startling example of this was the nonstop coverage by NBC of the extensive flooding in California caused by a series of storms coming off the Pacific Ocean. This did not receive any featured treatment on the Fox site.

Whether one receives news primarily from NBC or from Fox can also determine how much the war in Ukraine is in one’s consciousness. Top-10 headlines about Ukraine appeared 16 times on NBC and only four times on Fox. People who consume news primarily on NBC might be surprised at the importance of news about Hunter Biden and his alleged misdeeds – on Fox, eight times vs. zero on NBC. Fox News prominently highlights what can be classified as news about the culture wars, with dozens of headlines spotlighting what it calls “woke” incursions into popular culture and politics.

Elon Musk and his actions and opinions receive prominent coverage from Fox News and very little from NBC. Another difference: On Fox, one would find frequent negative headlines about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Meghan Markle and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre; not featured on NBC’s site.

An important disclaimer is that this is just a snapshot of top news headlines.

It does not mean that some of these stories didn’t receive coverage – just that they were not listed in the top 10 for the time period observed. Nevertheless, I believe it to be a telling snapshot, one that offers a regrettable picture.

One remedy, of course, is to make it a practice to visit news sites that may offer a different world view, even if – or especially if – this exposure feels uncomfortable. Another might be to have an online site that offers, in real time, side-by-side headlines from different news sites, representing world views from the left and the right.

We will all likely still have widely differing views and opinions. But at least those could be based on a common view of what constitutes the news.

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