The Problems With The Media
Where do you get your news?
The news. Some of us watch it everyday, some of us a couple times a week, and some of us just occasionally. Everyone gets their knowledge of world events from the media from newspapers, television, the internet, or any other place where news corporations broadcast. This presents an obvious issue once you think about it: are we seeing what is actually happening, or are we seeing what companies want us to see (or what is going to get them the best ratings)?
As a person who tries to get his news from different sources, both mainstream and fringe, I see the way that places portray, or don’t portray, certain stories. For example, while VICE News had a full, embedded series on the civil war in Ukraine, there was near to zero coverage of the war on CNN. One could see this as being indicative of the entire state of the media.
When CNN became the first major 24/7 news station, the way the news was looked upon had changed. On one hand, you could constantly notify viewers of breaking updates on events around the world. On the other, you could make a lot of money by showing the general populace what the money-holding people (companies, government parties, etc) want them to see. Even in the first scenario – there are questions that arise. Questions like, if a station can’t actually show everything going on in the world, who decides (and why?) what is considered newsworthy? All of this really makes us, as consumers, the victims, if you will, to the will of the media.
Issues both in the past, and those that are current clearly show the influence the news has had on us. When the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 went down in March 2014, it dominated CNN coverage for at least a month. This was reflected by constant discussions that I witnessed on social media and in person about the missing plane, even though there was really nothing to talk about. Another example is the way that school shootings, and shootings in general, are portrayed. Instead of presenting the story as being just like any other news, they over-glorify the perpetrators, and then blame the events on everything from video games to lack of gun control, and sometimes even violence in forms of media like television, movies and music.
The major American news stations are so well-known for being biased that we automatically associate political standings (and sometimes even parties) with them. CNN is considered to be more Democrat-leaning and liberal, while Fox is considered to be more Republican-leaning and conservative. MSNBC is on CNN’s side as a liberal station. This knowledge, and most importantly, the fact that it is commonly known, really shows the nature of the media, and us as audiences.
Another issue that has recently become prominent is that of journalistic integrity. At one time we had reporters like Walter Cronkite (who was considered the most trusted man in America), who’s journalistic integrity has been praised since his time at CBS News. In recent times though, we have had events like the Brian Williams scandal, where the NBC news reporter was found to have lied on several different occasions throughout coverages of different events, including the Iraq War and the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.
This begs the questions, where should we get our knowledge of the world? Well, there are still places that do not have any noticeable bias (and they achieve this through a variety of ways). I personally am partial to the Associated Press’ (AP) news feed. They just give brief runs of everything that is going on. Because they are running a feed and not a television channel, they can pour out news, with multiple stories of varying levels of importance going out simultaneously. Reuters and BBC both have a level of prestige, but even they have had problems in the past with authenticity of reports. In the end, the only thing you can really do is look at a wide range of news sources, from AP to CNN and Fox.