Monday, February 20, 2017

FAIR AND FREE PRESS

The protection of a free press is essential in any democracy. Unlike some nations, the United States does not have a state run news agency, dictating reporting. Media companies are free to serve the public interest, holding elected officials and power brokers accountable, on their own terms. Having a free press is essential in protecting a democracy, but having a fair press is important as well. America needs a news industry that is fair and free. 

A fair and free press is one where the public's interest is served in a manner free of bias and consistent, without regard to political leanings or affiliation. A few years ago, a survey of the media shed light on the background of many in the journalism community. Not surprising, majority of journalists affiliate with the Democratic Party and identify their ideology as liberal. For decades, the public accused the media of a liberal bias, which research proved to be true. Despite this, journalist can still provide quality reporting and serve their role, if able to set aside their political leanings.

The 2016 election was a clear indictment of the media failing to set aside personal aspiration to report facts. For weeks, the media painted a picture of an inevitable result, culminating in the election of the first female president. As we know, that did not happen. Is the public supposed to believe that this was completely unexpected? Did all the facts and evidence lead the pollsters, pundits, and field reporters to disbelieve that Trump voters existed? Given the disparity in reporting and actual results, it is not far-fetched to believe that mainstream media ignored facts and signs that countered the more preferred truth. The election of the first female president was a far more intriguing story, given our hypersensitivity to race and gender.

Also not surprising is the pool people, the media told were on the losing side, now lack trust in our press corp, providing President Trump an opportunity. While Trump contributes greatly to some of his bad press, he is able to counter the vulnerability of the press in the minds of his base to attack his detractors credibility. After dragging their feet to report real issues like the Benghazi coverup, the IRS scandal, the NSA scandal, and the Secret Service debacles, the press is over eager to report any story negative towards Trump. For years, the media demonstrated open hostility to Republicans, which now Republicans see there is a person willingly to fight back. 

Image result for JournalismAmericans need to be able to trust the media and the coverage provided. Additionally, elected officials need to receive consistent treatment from the media, regardless if the journalist voted for or against the person. In no manner should journalist shirk their duty, but need to abandon the bias that dictates what gets covered and how content is presented. The industry is facing peripheral disruptions, which returning to quality independent journalism could solve.

Consider the current market and distribution channels traditional news providers must compete with. Comedic broadcasts passing off puns and jokes as journalism. Bloggers creating and distributing unvetted content. Hollywood entertainers using every platform to present opinions. In many hyperactive communities that seek constant entertainment, it is hard for quality journalists to break through. Many simply pass off opinion pieces as fact based reporting, which does not serve the public’s interest.

Image result for JournalismMedia should provide facts to the public, letting individuals process the data and make their own opinions. Currently, the mode of operation appears to be to push a message and drive acceptance through emotional appeal, regardless of rationality. While people are both emotional and intellectual, appealing to one’s emotions leads to a greater ability for a favorable response. People do not want to be perceived as a supporter of someone labeled mean, angry, or other negative attributes. But, people also should want to be able to make the right choices based on impacts to their financial and social situations.


In our current society, there really is not much hope for a press that is completely free of bias and focuses on quality journalism. One can only hope that media outlets use the 2016 as an event that returns them to its core reasons for operations. Serve the public’s interest. Not the name on your ballot.