During a weekly Socratic discussion in 2015, students at Sphinx Academy recognized a bias on the web. Social media news and search engine results are delivered based on previously viewed material. For example, if a conservative person and liberal person searched the same keywords, the results would vary. Students noted that this leads to narrow-mindedness and weakens a person’s ability to recognize and understand differing viewpoints.
From this discussion, Side By Side News was born. Students reached out to other schools and created the website www.sidebysidenews.org. They meet on Saturdays at Sphinx Academy and high school students from all over the country are invited to participate.
Here is their description of their mission:
In an ever more digital age, access to all forms of media is just a click away. While it has opened a world of opportunities, it has also closed many minds off to the idea of divergent viewpoints. Too often we found ourselves having to dig through countless articles just to find a piece that is fair to both sides of an issue. Our goal is to mitigate bias and provide a ground level of information that people can build their opinions off of.
As High School students, we often see ourselves and peers base their opinions solely on their parents’ views or the ideology of their party. Issues are rarely blue or red and communicating the nuanced nature of politics is crucial in fostering the development of unique, thoughtful viewpoints. We believe that media should not be where people get their opinions, rather it should be the place where people gain the knowledge to form their own ideas.