Written By Austin Hall (@ADWAustin)
When there is a strong possibility that a foreign country greatly affected the outcome of our presidential election, it’s pretty safe to say that this country needs strong journalism now more than ever.
Just in the past few weeks, the White House distributed a doctored video incorrectly showing CNN’s Jim Acosta assaulting a White House intern, then banning Acosta in the process. (As a result, CNN is suing the White House).
This has just been the latest attack on the freedom of the press from our president, Donald Trump, who has routinely said that the New York Times is failing, that the news media spreads “fake news”, and that it is the “Enemy of the People.”
Now, I’m not an evil mastermind, but I do know that one very effective way of creating a dictatorship is through spreading propaganda and discrediting reputable sources. And, it’s pretty troubling to see that the President of the United States, the man in the highest office of one of the world’s most powerful nations, is doing everything he can to discredit any negativity that comes his way, especially when he has praised actual dictators.
We need news organizations like The Hill, MSNBC, CNN, and, most importantly, Fox News, to do their best to provide unbiased and truthful reporting. It seems like some of these networks are either laced with ample praise of the president (Fox), or, sometimes, are looking for an angle more self-serving that will get people to tune in instead of a more accurate headline (CNN).
Social media, and the way we view these headlines, hasn’t helped. Most people these days (including me), want the main point of the news fast as we flip through Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. So, the problem becomes twofold: while news organizations need to draw in readers/viewers in order to stay competitive in the industry, people have ample resources and limited time to find out what really happened in the world at large. It’s understandable that headlines would heighten a news story so that it will jump out at you on your news feed, but it goes too far when the headlines are misleading.
We can no longer rely on Walter Cronkite delivering the news to us straight. We have to dig into numerous websites, channels, newspapers, and headlines before we can form our own opinions about what’s going on.
The problem is, most people follow one source, so how do we get people to become more informed?
As much as I’d like to blame the media, we as citizens of this country need to form a better foundation for disseminating information, and that starts in schools. Basic logic and classes on how to learn from the news should be a requirement, right up there with learning the 26 letters of the alphabet and that 1+1=2.
Otherwise, we’ll all start believing 2+2=5.