The Current State
The media is in an absolutely abysmal state, and has been on a steady decline the last decade or so. The recent political climate has made things worse and has all but confirmed any suspicions I had that the media was not on the up and up. Previously, my only major complaint about the media was how they always seemed focused on covering only the most shocking stories. Over time this evolved into news agencies exaggerating facts to increase the shock factor on otherwise mundane events/issues. I learned to take every news story with a grain of salt, assuming they were engaging in what I previously mentioned, but now I am seeing news agencies display obvious biases and agendas; some even outright stating that was the case. I rarely see objective, informative articles/stories, but rather a seemingly endless stream of throwaway reporting. I’m genuinely surprised when I come across a coherent article or story with the sole objective of informing me of current events. Today’s journalism is comparable to two five-year-olds arguing about who the best super hero is.
Where did the decline start?
In the beginning, journalism was about providing accurate, informative information about current events. The real source of competition was seeing who could provide the most information, and who could provide it the fastest. I feel that with the rapid improvement in technology, most news agencies were closing the time gap. With everyone reporting the same things at the same time, they had to find a way to distinguish themselves from one another.
What would you rather hear about; the start of a new local food bank? or a train derailment? I think a vast majority would prefer the latter; the reason why is a question for another day. Now news agencies were looking for the most shocking stories to cover. I think it was at this point, when I was younger, that I realized that a large portion of the news was negative. For every story with a happier tone, there were four more stories covering things such as traffic accidents, crimes, scandals, etc.. Now this sort of constant negative reporting can really bring people down, but the fact of the matter is that the world is full of these terrible things, so although it was mostly negative, it was at least accurate.
A Turn for the Worse
The big turning point came next with the introduction of hyperbole into the media. To set themselves apart from the competition, news agencies began finding any small hint of a potential story, and completely blowing things out of proportion. A small fire at a local restaurant suddenly turned into blazing inferno at a local restaurant. And one of the worst things, in my opinion, was when people accused, but not convicted of crimes were having their names and pictures thrown around without care. I don’t even want to know how many individuals lives were ruined as a result of reckless journalism. And it’s disturbing that this is still considered acceptable.
Where are we now?
Growing up I don’t remember news channels being labeled as right or left, they simply reported the news. It’s safe to say that opinions have managed to work their way into reporting. Glancing through today’s newspaper, I noticed the ‘opinion’ section and couldn’t help but laugh to myself. Having an opinion section is all fine and dandy, but when it comes to reporting events, I only want to see the facts, I don’t care about opinion and neither should the journalist, unless of course they have been directed to do so.
Today’s reporting is sold to the highest bidder. It is no longer objective, and it is clear that news reporting is used to bolster, or more typically, tear down an individual, group of people, corporation, etc.. Everyone seems to have their own agendas now. The integrity of journalism is almost non-existent. I don’t even know where to go for reliable, unbiased news anymore. I’m always welcome to suggestions. I had confidence in sources such as Reuters, BBC, and Al-Jazeera, but these last few months have made me lose almost all faith in these as well.
Can the media be saved?
In short, no. It is already too far gone. It has already convinced itself that what it is doing is acceptable. I think now we need to look to each other for reliable information. I want to encourage freelance journalism, but please for the sake of humanity, make reliability and objectivity you only goals. If you’re going to provide any opinion, be sure to be forthcoming about it. Eventually, people will realize that today’s media is a sham and will have to turn somewhere for their news. I hoping that by then, we will have groups of people that have restored journalism to what it once was.