Media: Catering to public or conveying trustworthy facts?

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In 1972 two Washington Post journalists followed a story about a burglary which led them down a path of corruption and lies.

The ensuing scandal involved the president and caused his eventual resignation.

The Watergate scandal and the investigative work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein is an example of the power of the media and its role of protecting society and democratic processes.

The freedom of the press has been an essential part of American society since the Revolution.

The public distrusts the media because they pander to the needs of the people instead of reporting valid information. Photo Illustration by Katelyn Holm/The Bells

Because the role of the media is providing the public with reliable information, their most valuable asset is credibility.

Journalists are expected to adhere to a strict set of ethics. Plagiarism and using false sources are often career-ending offences.

In spite of this, the media have been losing much of their trustworthiness over the last decade.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans have little or no trust in the mass media.

This is the highest level of mistrust ever recorded in America and is a sobering fact in an election year.

The study showed that distrust was highest among Independents and Republicans.

The suspicion is certainly deserved. Many Americans consider the media to be strongly biased or sometimes even false.

The main reason to distrust the media is that they have more incentive to minister what the public wants to hear than the actual truth.

The news media are businesses that essentially give away information.

Newspapers are relatively cheap, and most of the large dailies publish online. Much of their revenue comes from advertising.

To hook lucrative advertisements, media outlets need high ratings and subscribers.

There is normally a direct correlation between revenue from advertisements and the size of the audience.

Instead of providing the truth, the media will provide the public with what they want because it pays.

If people care more about the lives of celebrities than they do about local politics or domestic and foreign crises, then news media will provide it.

What is frightening is how the media have taken the public’s obsession with celebrities and used it in the way they paint politicians. Likability and charisma have always been important for politicians.

The news media generally report superficial things about politicians rather than trying to analyze policy and procedure.

In spite of the fact that our culture promotes instant gratification, the truth is actually difficult to find.

With the sheer amount of information that is out there, the public is overloaded with data.

Most of the news on television consists of sound bites that are taken out of context and slanted to promote media bias.

Generally, finding the actual truth requires reading whole speeches and studying questions asked of politicians.

The fact that 60 percent of Americans do not trust the media is actually encouraging.

With the state of media now, it actually makes sense that distrust is so high.

It is hopeful to see the American people seeking the truth instead of choosing to sit back and absorb whatever the network media pump out.

Some trips are still in the works, like a trip to Argentina during December with Dr. Michelle Reina in the College of Business.

Every year advertising revenues for newspapers shrink, and little by little smaller media outlets are eroding or being bought up by large conglomerates.

Perhaps this change in the public’s mindset will lead to the restoration of credibility of the media and could even save the industry.

Author: Ethan Mitra

Bio info coming soon!

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