What is Journalism in Today’s Landscape?

Journalism is intended to inform people around the globe about what is happening that would be important to them, but the motives of the media have changed drastically over the last four years.

Many media outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, and Washington Post were seen as credible news sources that people could trust. Even CNN was seen as the unbiased middle-ground for news in-between places like Fox News and MSNBC, who both had a clear political leaning.

However, in recent years, it has become clear that news outlets do not aim to release truth and factual information. It has become far more difficult to find actual news instead of being fed stories that the news outlets want people to believe.

In 2016, news media was losing credibility at an alarming rate. Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton called the media “fake news”, which current President Donald Trump took and ran with.

CNN, which used to be the go-to place for objective news, is now seen as the embodiment of unreliable news. The network has continued to see ratings drop as they still focus on influencing the American people instead of hard-hitting journalism that one would expect of a well-known news outlet. The news outlet that used to be all journalists’ dream destination is now being mocked for their less than stellar reporting, often being referred to as “Fake News Network”.

Because of the mainstream media falling as a result of their own decisions, smaller media outlets are given the chance to shine. Local news outlets have a much more objective goal, which many people are slowly beginning to realize. Should the mainstream media continue in how it conducts itself nowadays and small news outlets strive for objectivity over political bias, the smaller organizations could really make a name for themselves as they separate from the pack.

Nowadays, media outlets are seen more as commentators or political activists than objective news organizations. While there is nothing wrong with bringing an important topic to light, it should be done so in an objective way, not calling people out for operating in a different way. Activists have a desire to call people to action, whether it is donating to a GoFundMe, organizing a rally, or encouraging people to speak out on their platform. News outlets are not designed to do that as their obligation to the public is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

One thing that is so difficult for reporters is staying neutral. Like everyone else, reporters have opinions too. However, their job is only to report the news unless they work in the editorial section of a news outlet. Some reporting is biased but would not seem like it to the average consumer. Reporters can be subtle about the message they are trying to convey, but they still want you to think like they do in many instances.

News reporters can also be subjective in not only how they report, but in what they report. If a story would hurt their political agenda, a news outlet is unlikely to report it. They are very selective and intentional about what they report, with clear motives in play.

For example, under the current situation surrounding the nationwide protests, business owners risking their lives to protect their business from looters, minority police officers being killed in the riots, and protests being undeniably peaceful in certain areas are all heavily underreported on. As was the case with the filming of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd’s murders, these instances would not be known by the public either if it was not for bystanders filming and posting to social media. Major news outlets have access to this information as they are at the scene, but they elect to not report it for the world to see as it is not the message they want people to know about.

NPR’s Rose Scott, along with many other journalists, tell young journalists not to get involved in political activism groups as it is their job to inform, not influence others to think like them. Scott has opinions of her own and has let them affect her reporting at times. Everyone makes mistakes but it is important for journalists to be journalists, not activists, no matter how hard it may be.

Of course, many news outlets do have an editorial side so sharing opinions in a place where opinions are designed to be shared is always welcome, regardless of how controversial. Many people say it is hard to differentiate fact from opinion anymore because information that belongs in the opinion section is broadcasted as factual news, which causes a network to lose credibility.

As tensions rise in America as a result of racial protests, presidential elections, and the handling of the coronavirus, it is important for news outlets to remain objective. Breaking news stories by a smaller outlet can be the catapult they need to become a household name if done in a truly objective way.

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