Back in the day, Walter Cronkite signed off on the news by saying “And that’s the way it is.” Everyone of a certain age knew this because a great deal of the population received their new via Walter and the six o’clock news. There were morning and evening editions of the paper, and people turned on their radios to get updates. Magazines gave us other sorts of news on a weekly or monthly basis. And of course, for local news, there was the daisy chain. The average person probably received information from about five sources.
How many ways do you receive information?
I woke at seven and looked at blogs and emails. Maybe I read and responded to about twenty or thirty. Then I looked at my email: New York Times. Wall Street Journal. AMNY. Yahoo News. Pure Wow. Thrillist. In ninety minutes I’ve gotten information from maybe 35 sources.
35. At least.
And my day has just begun.
Can you say glut of information?
I’m going to remind you of a little history. In the late 1800’s Hearst and Pulitzer were in a battle for readership in New York City. They both wanted to be Number 1. So they decided to put their resources into escalating tensions between the US and Spain. Yellow journalism. Using second and third hand accounts. Fabricating stories. Exacerbating events. Information received through interpreters who may or may not have understood English or Spanish particularly well. And the quote: “Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”
The media. Out for their own interests since 1898.
I’d like to say that we’ve learned from this, but over a hundred years later, are we still taking liberty with the news to gain readership?
Does the media push the buttons to make things run?
Does the media determine which stories are “more important”?
Does the media determine what is right and what is wrong?
Is the media really impartial?
My daughter was recently “hired” by her school newspaper. (Hired is sort of misleading, because though she did have to apply and be interviewed, she does not get paid) When she joined she pledged to not write for any other news outlet. She is not allowed to write an editorial for the paper because she is “staff” and therefore not allowed to publicly hold an opinion on topics. She is also not allowed to visibly support someone running for an office at her school. If her roommate was to run for Student Council secretary my daughter would not be allowed to wear a “Vote Roommate” pin or hand out a flyer. My daughter is supposed to remain impartial because she is a journalist and has to maintain journalistic integrity.
Shouldn’t we hold the people who get paid to impart the news to same standard as we do a 17 year old young woman?
Does journalistic integrity even exist?
Next time you check the news, ask yourself if it is being delivered impartially. Then ask yourself why it’s not, because I’m going to bet there’s a slant, and I don’t care what channel or source you’re looking at. Ask yourself why the media needs to tell you what your opinion is? Is the media’s job to furnish you with your opinion?
“Remember the Maine” because “that’s the way it is.”