I’m Excited for the launch of Vox, but this op-ed by Malcolm Harris reminds me that we need to be careful with news sources that claim to offer comprehensive explanations and analyses of so many different topics. With so many complex issues in the world, we’d be fools to think that just because we have lots of data we can now cut to the core of those issues. Data helps but it must be interpreted, and that interpretation is done by a human being who has biases and blind spots in their reasoning.
This is not an argument that “we can’t really know anything.” We can learn a great deal about the world from reading news sources, but when we inform ourselves about the world by reading short articles we have to keep in mind that we are reading a simplification of events. Personally, I think the author asks too much by arguing that authors need to spend time in every post explaining how their personal identity or perspective may bias their reporting, as he seems to suggest in the example of Nate Silver covering the sexual assault charges against Julian Assange. It would be great if we could have this information in every news article, but that seems too high of a standard to set for humans. Rather, we should try to read the news critically, fully aware that it’s written by other people who have their own biases.