If You’re Interested In All Sides of an Issue, ‘AllSides’ Is A Good Place to Start
John Gable, co-founder and CEO of AllSides.com and AllSidesForSchools.org, joins host T. J. O’Hara on Deconstructed to discuss the importance of learning how to reach a factual conclusion rather than a partisan one. In a world in which biased representations often carry the day, these two organizations strive to expose their audiences to a range of opinions.
Mr. Gable begins the discussion with a reflection upon his upbringing as a Republican in the blue state of Kentucky (as it is now and was at the time). Transitioning from his early work with political candidates and organizations, he describes what he experienced migrating to the world of technology in the liberal epicenter of the West Coast. He describes the very few differences he had with his co-workers as compared to what he noticed they had in common. Within that context, he offers another interesting insight into the contrast he saw between San Francisco and a city in Mississippi where he once worked. It may not be what you might guess.
Then, Mr. Gable explains how the idea for AllSides originated. Its premise is that the way society gets its news and information affects the world around us. He suggests that news, social media, and even search results have dramatically changed in the last several years, becoming so narrowly filtered, biased, and personalized that we are becoming less informed and less tolerant of different people and ideas. AllSides was created to present a broader range of views to help us learn to resist any attempts to manipulate our beliefs.
When T.J. asks how AllSides works, Mr. Gable provides an overview of how AllSides literally presents “all sides” of an issue. He describes how his team continually evaluates media sources to determine where they lie on the political spectrum and ultimately assigns a “Media Bias Rating” to each source (i.e., Left / Lean Left / Center / Lean Right / Right). He then explains how they select sources on the Left, Right, and Center for every critical issue. There is no attempt to sway AllSides’ audience one way or the other – simply an effort to expose readers to different points of view to broaden their perspectives.
AllSides even assigns ratings to “fact checking” organizations because, yes, they also exhibit biases. It becomes painfully apparent that “facts” often have little to do with the “checking” these entities provide.
Mr. Gable also discusses the wide range of tools that AllSides offers including “Talks” and a fascinating approach called “Mismatch.” The latter tool leads to a discussion of the unique tools that are available with the affiliate organization AllSides for Schools. That program reaches out to institutes from Middle Schools to Colleges. Mr. Gable shares some of the curricula and practice skill instructions that are available to help bridge the gaps that exist in our education system with respect to understanding fundamental civics, the ability to engage in civil discussions, and the capacity to exercise critical thinking.
T.J. says AllSides is a “go to” website that should be on everyone’s short-list of political resources. If you are serious about arriving at your own informed decision rather than just accepting what the Party or media outlet of your choice decides for you, AllSides is an excellent source with which to begin.