On October 29, 2018, Donald Trump called the “fake news media” the “true enemy of the people.” It had not been for the first time. And it wouldn’t be the last. On that morning The President said this in two tweets. “There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & oblivious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly.
That will do much to put out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!” After this and many other similar occurrences, people have talked poorly about our President.
What we don’t hear being discussed very often is the possibility that, The President is correct, at least about the “fake news” part. Yes, the media publishes things that President Trump doesn’t like, that you don’t like, that I don’t like.
And it is essential that they continue to do so. By some means us citizens need to find out what’s really going on in the world outside of our communities. There are definitely certain truths no one likes to face, but it is the responsibility of the media to report these realities. But in addition to just supplying us with our daily news, the press must stop publishing fake news. The media needs to show us that they aren’t our enemy.
That they serve an important purpose, and that fake news isn’t the only thing they publish.
As media bias continues to impact our society, we must beware of its consequences, for ambiguity is always the enemy of good reporting. After understanding the importance of good journalism, noting the negative effects media bias has had on our perception of the media, and if there are any ways to fix this problem, we can all take away from this the fact that it is not all the media’s fault for the disruption of unity on our country, but also the fault of the individuals who have committed corrupt acts. Today one of the most important aspects of living in a modern society is journalism. One of journalism’s most important functions is conveying information. Not only does conveying information play a large role in journalism, but it is also a key component in our democratic decision-making system. It brings transparency into society, and for its part makes sure that the decisions made concur with the people’s sense of justice.
To create a chance for civil advocacy it is important that the citizens are already informed of decisions when they are being decided upon. This is the part where journalism comes in, they overseeing the work of government officials on behalf of us, the citizens. It conveys information to us about what is happening in society while at the same time letting the policy makers know what kinds of effects their decisions have had, as well as what kinds of decisions have been made elsewhere by others. Journalism lets the policy makers know what the public expects of them by doing this. In addition to conveying information, good journalism also interprets the world. It elucidates world problems in a way for citizens to easily access and understand. It provides helpful insight on issues and decisions being made by describing the cause and effects of current events and their problems. Journalism shows what kind of an impact these events have on others’ lives while bringing them close to other people’s everyday lives.
Another one of journalism’s functions includes the creation of a sense of solidarity in society, which can happen through large news events. Journalism also helps maintain peace in our democratic society by establishing this sense of unity. As Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel identified in their book “The Elements of Journalism” there are ten foundational elements of journalism. One of these being that a “journalist’s first obligation is to the truth.” Why, because we must have reliable access to information that they can trust to be accurate. We can then make better decisions and better govern ourselves. Us citizens should be able to rely on journalists to provide us with truthful information about candidates and not just propaganda and lies so that we can, for instance, decide who to vote for. Same goes for many of the simple choices we make in our everyday lives. Another one of Kovatch and Rosensteil’s roles journalism fulfills is to “serve as an independent monitor of power” and “offer a voice to the voiceless.”
Powerful people try to get away with bad things. If journalists weren’t there to expose them, those powerful people would just get away with it. But the majority of the people in our country aren’t powerful. We are just average citizens. But our perspectives and stories are still important. Journalists are the ones who find us powerless people and give us a voice. This brings us to the realization that journalism is also our weapon against corruption. If we are just voiceless people then who is there to speak for us? Who is there to stop the powerful people from being corrupt? The answer lies in front of us every day. Journalism has always been our method to knowing the latest news, even since colonial times. Without it how would we know what is happening in the government? How would we find out about topics being discussed in congress? Would we even know about the government shutdown happening?
Would legislators, senators, presidents, and many other people have gotten away with corrupt acts? All of these are reasons that explain the importance of the media. Now that we understand the immensity of journalism’s role played in our everyday lives, let’s take a closer look and determine just how the bias in media has led to our negative perception of the press. As senior economics reporter Andrew Soergel for U.S. News pointed out, there are two main reasons for people hating the media. He explains, “there are so many media outlets catering to so many media tastes” then later gives a second reason. That reason being, “the parties are so polarized, they’re more ideological than they used to be.”
This leaves us thinking. What are we to believe if there is just “fake news” coming from multiple sources. It doesn’t matter what platform the journalist is providing the content for, in both broadcast and print media purposes, media bias is always involved. This is due partially because as Soergel pointed out there are two very distinct political parties. Nowadays the press seems to just be keeping watch on parties and their moves, acting like a watchdog. In this case a watchdog of society. To some it seems to just be making up stories that fit what their audience wants to hear. This can be partially due to the fact that nowadays our consumption of the media is inconsistent. In recent years we have begun to collect information from not just one, but a variety of different sources.
This is why today even larger news events are needed to affect people in a collective manner. The highly broadcast events feel like historical events, but this is merely because of their wide news coverage. Widely covered events become a part of history, and those of us following the events feel like we are experiencing a turning point in history. Because of their ability to manipulate what events are covered, media bias has the power to both blow things out of proportion and just sweep them perfunctory under the rug. Even though journalists provide coverage on many social issues they must not strive to be a political force. Journalism is very important to the functions of our democratic society but many see it as a problem or issue that is not beneficial. This is what has led journalism as a profession to not be held as a high regard. Especially in 2019. Additionally people criticize the work of journalists if the perspectives or the coverage they give doesn’t appeal to them.
During recent years this low esteem for journalists can be explained by the biased opinions they give on certain topics. Many media sources have taken sides with the political parties, leaving us the citizens to also choose which side we want to join. We get frustrated at the accusations and content made and shown on other news sources. This leads to our society parting, which is not a situation that is suitable for keeping a peaceful and successful democracy running. Today we can’t turn on the news without a major headline dealing with the government. In these headlines the accused blame the press for false accusations which leads to supporters of the accused also putting the blame on the press. Because even though some of it might be true, it doesn’t fit what they believe to be true.
Now that we have brought to attention the reasons for our negative views of the press, let’s learn what we can do to stop these negative opinions as we find out how media bias can be put to an end. In this case media bias has seemingly become the cause of the anger and outrage taking place in our country. Many have come to believe and even fear that as Donald Trump has asserted numerous times, the media is becoming “true enemy of the people.” In cases like these, the most salient component of journalism we need to understand is that its entire purpose is to serve the citizens, all of the citizens, in our society. When keeping this in mind it is easier for us to see the crucial role journalism plays in the health and wellbeing of our nation.
This leaves us to wonder should we blame the press for doing what they do, or should we appreciate what insight they give us into the workings of our democracy. I believe that we should be thankful for the intuition they give us, but I also believe that they shouldn’t create biased coverage that creates anger in some individuals. But even if we could push some sort of “reset” button on media bias and try and stop it from becoming an issue , we would expect the same problems to arise because they have already become to big, and dug themselves into a hole too deep to fill. To come to this realization, we began by understanding the importance of good journalism, then, we noted the negative effects media bias has had on our beliefs, and finally, realized that there is no simple solution to this problem.
You may wonder, what is the way forward? And my answer is that there is no easy answer or answers to this question. Efforts by journalists won’t work simply because there is more than a just one journalist out there, and eliminating fake news won’t change the fact that we all ignore ideas contrary to our beliefs. This leaves us to discover that it’s not just the media that has to take action, but we do as well. Media companies, their customers, journalists, and politicians, we all have to look for a way to confront the problem that has been created. The future of our country’s democracy depends on all of us. The stakes could not be higher.