The #1 Problem With the Media: You.
So, next to Donald Trump, the “media” is the biggest target out there for the SJW and the “anti-SJW” crowd for just about every problem that there is. At one point, it was people who were racist, then it was just people calling other people racist, now it’s people who are neutrally, or not neutrally, who are the real villains in the world. I hear it every day. "How can you trust MSM?” or “You're just a product of media propaganda spin”, all because I don’t support Trump or levy viable criticisms against the administration. I won’t sit here to pretend that I am in favor of Trump, or any of the current policies that the Trump administration has either planned to put in place, or has already put in place. But, I will say one of the things I attempt to do is look through a number of different sources, both primary and secondary, to best understand what’s happening in the world and present my take on it so that you, the readers, can hopefully better understand what’s going on.
I am not classically trained in journalism, not yet anyway. But if I had to prescribe a definition to journalism, it would be presenting the facts about a particular story in the most honest, factually correct way possible. I would say the point of journalism, in that regard, is to inform and educate an audience. We, as consumers of media, are effectively students with every article we put in front of our eyes. Like education, we are free to validate, question, and analyze all that we see.
However, unlike teachers and professors, journalists and pundits are losing credibility over time. How can this be?
Well, let’s look back in time a bit. The U.S., a few decades ago, had very few options in terms media outlet choices. Usually, there was only a few channels on TV, a few stations on the radio, and a few mainstream publications. News on TV was usually delivered in an evening hour long slot, delivering all the headlines from all over the world. There wasn’t much discrepancy between what the few, different outlets reported on and people tended to take it at face value because there was no way to dig deeper unless you wanted to collect hundreds of pounds of newspaper. In this world, we had respect for figures like Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley because they reported on the biggest stories and there weren’t a lot of other people who we could trust to discredit them.
Now, look at today. We see a very different picture. 24-hour news networks dedicate non-stop coverage to issues of varying degrees of importance while bringing on dozens of pundits to discuss said news ad-nauseam. You also have the internet, which allows you to get your news from hundreds, to potentially thousands, of different sources (irony alert). And there is no feasible way to keep misinformation from spreading other than community policing.
This makes it very difficult, from what was once a relatively simple information terrain to navigate. Of course, there is good and bad to this. The bad being that the truth becomes muddled in the vast array of news sources, but the good news is if you read enough these sources the definitive truth becomes easier to access. Look at Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. While all of them can be considered different in the news they consider important, the personality of their pundits, and the angles and scopes through which they view news stories, they all have to review the top stories of the day. In this you can cycle through the coverage and commentary of each to discover where the truth really lies. And because those sources can sometimes not cover all the news, independent media outlets like The Guardian, The Intercept, and The Daily Wire are available to look at stories that would otherwise not be published.
In this, we can say news itself has not devolved, but due to the amount of content and the accessibility, it has become overwhelming, to say the least. Because of this, we must evolve. Evolve past our one channel, half-hour news slot days. We have to be willing to go to several places to educate ourselves before we can consider ourselves “informed citizens”. We also have to be willing to have a dialogue in person with each other about what we’ve learned and be willing to admit when we were wrong or misinformed about a subject.
Let’s work to demand better. Better reporting, analysis, and commentary from our media, but let’s also demand better research from ourselves as well.