BRVGS student tackles media bias and fake news
November 5, 2020
Reporter/Photographer Isabella Rocha talks with senior Emily Eppard about her BRVGS Capstone Project.
Each year, seniors who are a part of the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School participate in the Capstone Project. These students present projects on an important issue of their choice through an internship, community service activity and research paper.
LCHS senior, Emily Eppard, is a BRVGS student who is currently interning with The Central Virginian to tackle the key issues of media bias and misinformation in the news.
“There are many concerns that the news people are consuming is either biased or entirely fake,” Eppard said.
“I believe it is crucial that people, especially voters, be educated about issues and events,” stated Eppard.
With the internet, people are allowed to share any information they want regardless of a reliable source. “People trust the information they read on the internet blindly, even when they should do more to verify the reliability of a source,” Eppard said.
Eppard’s mentor, David Holtzman, is the editor of The Central Virginian with whom she accompanies to events.
Mr. Holtzman has taught her “the importance of getting people’s input, but still reporting the facts,” Eppard said. The Central Virginian is an information source for Louisa voters; this is why Holtzman and Eppard focused on the actions of both candidates in order to fairly display their actions.
Not only has Eppard researched top candidates such as Abigail Spanberger and Nick Frietas in order to prepare interview questions, but she has also been able to help write an article for the newspaper. Along with that, she has sat in on an interview between Holtzman and Spanberger, and has been able to edit pages before they’re published.
Her internship with The Central Virginian has given Eppard an insight on bias in the media and a hands-on experience with journalism.
“I have always considered myself to be a civic-minded person and I believe it is crucial that people, especially voters, be educated about issues and events. With this comes the concern that the news people are consuming is either biased or entirely fake. This is especially worrying because of how common it is for people to get their information from the internet. Before the digital age, people would get their news from newspapers or local news channels, which have trained, experienced, and usually reliable reporters. Once anyone could distribute information as quickly as the internet allows, though, the news landscape changed. People trust the information they read on the internet blindly, even when they should do more to verify the reliability of a source.
This trust of misleading sources is dangerous enough when the only topic is current events and politics, but when the information spread is medically inaccurate, as was the case especially in the beginning of the pandemic, not having media literacy can be fatal. So I decided to intern with a reliable and trusted local news source: The Central Virginian.
I have accompanied my mentor, the editor of The Central Virginian, Mr. David Holtzman, to events and took notes at them. I was even able to help write an article for the newspaper. Beyond this, I have helped edit the pages before they are sent to press and researched potential stories. I researched the campaigns and policies of Representative Abigail Spanberger and Delegate Nick Freitas to prepare interview questions. I was able to sit in on an interview between Mr. Holtzman and Representative Spanberger.
To me, interviewing the candidates is a prime example of the actions The Central Virginian takes to educate Louisa area voters. In preparing questions, Mr. Holtmzan and I focused on the actions both candidates have actually taken so that we could inform people about how well the candidates were actually serving their constituents. Mr. Holtzman has impressed upon me the importance of getting people’s input, but still reporting the facts.”