By Spencer Nestico
The role of journalism has always been primarily to connect developing stories with the public. Journalists will type away incessantly at their old typewriters, all the while priding themselves in their role to deliver a product that was not only factual and interesting, but something that yielded a deeply vital outcome: a well-informed population. You see, communication and knowledge are the reasons that nations become successful in their endeavors because people understand the issues. Conversely, this is currently the reason for why nations have difficulty advancing their policies – bad journalism.
It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly in the last 20 years did journalism begin to get less and less objective and more and more fatally sensationalist. Regardless of the history, it’s undeniably apparent that things have changed. The role of the journalist is no longer to present a balanced view on events, it’s to present such a balanced view that there’s no longer any point in writing about it. The great emphasis given to reporters and writers in news team is to refrain from bias at all costs, and this is probably one of the worst things to happen to the art. This is because there’s no differentiation being made between natural bias and acceptable scrutiny. A great example can be seen from the recent Presidential election. News teams have been so focused on presenting an impartial judgment of the two candidates that the public gets a mistaken impression that both candidates are equal in their ability to run the White House. This is wrong.
It seems that one of the greatest felonies that the journalist world has made is that they assume stories can no longer be interesting or acceptable unless they are just that: interesting and acceptable. News media is a great example of this. Fox News is one of the most humorously entertaining excuses for a news show, one that replaces actual analysis with gross exaggeration and even total fabrication. These types of media no longer have faith in their own stories, or their own viewers. They have lost the modest personality that was so attractive about reporters back in the day, the ones that made the likes of Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner household and national heroes.
It is lamentable to see the turn journalism has taken in the last decade. It’s sad to see lies told solely for the purpose of evening the odds and balancing stories, all in the name of fairness. The respect that the field once had has all but seemed to diminish.
It’s notable however to understand that not all reporters and members of the news media are corrupted, but just the big ones. Corporate media outlets like CNN and ABC News are the ones who are consistently producing the inaccurate material, spreading news that is so blatantly bare of opinion in order to please every possible reader that it really says nothing at all. On the other hand, small independent writers, or popular talk show hosts like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert still seem to retain a decently analytical mind, one that can actually question and argue the views held by Conservatives, whose only reply is always just an appeal to traditionalism. These are the men and women who should really be heard by America and are the ones who actually want to make a point, and well-educated ones at that.
Journalists have a right to take a stand on issues. They have a right to make judgments. Journalists have the factual knowledge and in-person experience on the issues that they investigate that citizens never get a chance to acquire, and this is why journalists have a responsibility to convey their actual findings to their audience, and not some heavily edited drivel that attempts to pander to both sides. These are the journalists we need right now, the ones who aren’t afraid and will come back from their reporting with news that they excitingly realize must be told.
During the 20th century reporting was done out of a responsibility and service to a people, and although I am assured that statements made by current members of this occupation would say the exact same thing, its just different. Journalism has never been used more aggressively to evoke sentiments of discontent and prejudice, and to foster a mentality that is unable to become open-minded or questioning. To go back to those days of honest broadcasting requires not only a massive restructuring of the news media, but also an increase in the level of acceptance that people have for each other in daily society. Either way, I’m just a corrupt journalist, so how would I know?