Liz Wahl, an American journalist who resigned on-air from Russia Today citing media bias, spoke about the importance of being an aware media consumer at a lecture hosted by Cornellians For Israel Tuesday.
“My experience as a reporter on RT was on the extreme end,” Wahl said. “I saw a biased agenda turn into propaganda, which had real life consequences for people on the ground.”
After resigning from RT, Wahl said she traveled to Israel to investigate the ongoing conflict where she spoke to local residents about the Israeli West Bank barrier constructed by Israeli officials.
Wahl addressed the barrier that was erected in response to a wave of suicide bombings, according to the Israeli government. She said the barrier has decreased the number of Israeli casualties from terrorist attacks, but the Palestinian citizens viewed it in a negative light.
“The barrier is not about security,” said a Palestinian citizen. “It is about annexation and expansion.”
The conflicting perceptions of the barrier showed that information can be presented in differently depending on the source, according to Wahl.
“Ultimately, I believe there is a little bit of bias in every source,” she said. “But there are some sources or reporters that are more reliable that we can count on for reporting the truth.”
Wahl introduced the acronym CLUMSY as a way to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources.
“CLUMSY stands for Censorship, Local Fixers with ulterior motives, Unconscious Bias, Media Outlets with an agenda, Social Media sloppiness and You,” she explained.
According to Wahl, these factors along with the modern digital age both contribute to the dissemination of biased and inaccurate information.
“Everyone is an amateur newscaster that can potentially reach more people in one post than many popular news outlets,” Wahl said. “In the end, we are less informed and further from the truth.”
While media bias is somewhat inevitable, Wahl said certain steps can be taken to promote the broadcasting of more reliable information.
“Journalists and everybody have to be more aware of the news that they are consuming and demand accountability,” Wahl said.