Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Monday’s I try to focus on issues. This week I am taking a look at Journalism.
Today I guess I’m ranting. The whole idea of a democratic election is that there be informed viewers. When this country was started our founders were wise enough to protect the freedom of the press. The idea was that a free and independent press will keep our people informed and thus enable them to vote appropriately.
But times have changed.
Try finding an unbiased news report. Almost all news that relates to government has a liberal bias. It has been that way for decades, but now seems worse than ever. Now the news media is not only liberal but anti-Trump. Here we are in the midst of a bullish economy and you hear little about it from the news media.
What is newsworthy to them? Anything anti-Trump. Lately they’ve been intensely following the Manafort trial. On its own merits it might be interesting, but as to relating to Trump and the supposed collusion with Russia not very much. In fact you really have to twist the facts to make it relevant.
The Media is Betraying Us.
It is the media’s job to keep us informed of what’s going on in our government. For example, why don’t they report on the resurgent economy? We had eight or more years of stagnant economic news. People lost their jobs, the economy tanked. But when Trump was elected and turned the economy around, it has only been grudgingly reported.
We constantly hear that the world is laughing at Trump, but he has forced foreign governments to pony up. Over and over he has successes that are not reported in the newspapers. Yes, we learn about them but only by wading through social media and visiting government sites.
When I was a student, oh so long ago, I remember reading about the newspapers of the late 19th century. Their agenda was war with Spain over Cuba. The issue is not whether they actually influenced the government or not but that they used Yellow Journalism.
What is Yellow Journalism?
It’s the use of sensationalist headlines and stories without well researched supporting information. Today we see it on a wide scale covering newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. While it is not the sole property of liberals they do appear to be the primary users of this non-reporting.
How Should Reporters Report?”
According to the Ethical Journalism Network there are five core principles of reporting. These are (with my commentary):
- Truth and Accuracy
Truth cannot be guaranteed, but reporters should be seeking facts not sensationalistic headlines. We constantly see sensational headlines on page one and the retractions and/or corrections in the interior. I as a reader want relevant facts not the reporter’s opinion.
Journalists must be independent voices. I agree with that. In fact I agree with the whole statement that EJN gives;
“Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors – or the audience – any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.” (Emphasis mine)
Some reporters do follow this, but when watching the Washington Press Corps in action I don’t see it or hear it, nor do I read it in most news articles in the local paper.
- Fairness and Impartiality
“Most stories have at least two sides. While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context.” I would disagree to this in one aspect. I believe they have a moral obligation to present the major sides of a story and be balanced. But I further believe that balance means a fair and equal reporting of facts. All too often we will read an article that will state a conservative point of view and the reporter will add content that seems to disagree with that view. But we don’t see that with liberal point of views.
“Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others.” I suggest that reporters be required to memorize that statement.
“A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accountable. When we commit errors we must correct them and our expressions of regret must be sincere not cynical. We listen to the concerns of our audience. We may not change what readers write or say but we will always provide remedies when we are unfair.” How about reporting the correction on the same page as the original article and with the same size print?
I’ll grant that journalistic integrity is a hard path to follow, but Americans and the American government deserve honest, ethical reporting. Here’s my single statement on what journalism should be about: A journalist should relate a story, backing it up with true facts, and with agenda free and opinion free reporting. You report, we decide.
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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.