Imagine a world devoid of journalism. Would our lives be better without it? Historically, the response was an emphatic no. Journalism provides us insight into the affairs of the world, illuminates the dark secrets held by miscreants and makes us far more conscious of the issues that will touch our everyday lives. However, although there are still a significant number of journalists with integrity, we have seen an increase in the number of journalists who have been seduced by the pleasures of fame and led astray by their inability to dissociate their personal views with the critical roles that they hold.
With the advent of the internet, the barriers to become a journalist have eroded, making internet journalism seize the mantle from print journalism. Consequently, an increasing number of journalists have built a name for themselves and are able to deliver news and insights in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago.
Journalism is a business, and businesses need to make a profit. With the vast number of journalists emboldened by their ability to disseminate news across the globe easily, instantly and practically for free, these journalists must compete with one another and distinguish themselves from the pack.
The use of misleading headlines, false news, inflammatory pieces, reputational assaults and hurriedly compiled reports including substantive evidence from questionable sources has become commonplace. The business has transitioned from one of integrity to one of click-gathering.
Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, journalism is indispensable. It is the backbone of a functioning world. Journalists tear down the barrier separating us from the rest of the world. It is the responsibility of journalists to gather information on world events and other fantastic, terrible and intriguing tales in order to enlighten us about the status of our communities and the world. Without them, our only sources of news would be word-of-mouth and government-supplied material. This crucial task must be carried out by impartial, independent parties that have no allegiance to any person or idea other than the truth.
Yet the leaders of the pack, those who have established themselves as trustworthy and dependable sources of information, have utilized their power, reputation and ability to attract clicks to propagate news that suits their interests and suppress news that does not.
This violation of trust by journalists may serve their own interests, but not that of the general public. In fact, these journalists are neither independent nor impartial; they are mere cogs in the propaganda machine. The only interests they serve are those of themselves or their parties, and the only thing that is objective to them is their fallible notions of truth.
The news should not serve American interests. In fact, the news should not serve anyone’s interests. The only interests that the news should serve are those of freedom of information — to inform the public of the facts and let them draw their own conclusions.
However, journalists do the exact opposite. They either claim to serve America’s interests, their own interests, the interests of their party or the interests of what they perceive to be right. If media did not serve any interests, our nation would not be facing the division that it is now experiencing. We would not need to be concerned that our thoughts might be censored. Instead, with independent, impartial journalism, individuals are free to draw their own conclusions based on the facts. People may examine the stories they are told and determine for themselves what they believe is right and wrong, who is good and who is bad, as opposed to a journalist repeatedly instructing readers to support a certain perspective or despise a particular individual.
It should not be the case that a viewer of CNN sees just a portion of the information and must then flip to Fox News to see the other facts, and vice versa. By virtue of this basic fact, it is evident that the media organizations that author these types of stories do not serve the public and instead are out to deceive them.
What function therefore does biased news serve? It cannot be stated that the objective of this type of news is to serve us by making us more educated, more independent thinkers and more well-rounded. Instead, biased news only serves the objective of those that media organizations want to serve.
Will journalism ever return to its former glory? The days when the truth was not manufactured but rather exposed? As the world becomes more connected, the number of journalists using novel strategies to earn more money and serve the interests of more powerful individuals increases. Regardless of the eventual conclusion, I implore anybody who sees a headline or reads a story to always dig deeper and seek the truth, rather than allowing the truth to be fed to you.