Is the media the enemy?

There’s something that has been bothering me for a while now. Since I began my career in journalism, which started the moment I first had my work published in college, I have heard whispers online, and sometimes in person, of those who denounce the media in all forms.

“The mainstream media is brainwashing us!”

“What are they trying to distract us from?”

“All journalists are liars!”

And so on.

Now, as far as the lying goes, I understand it’s hard to trust those of us in the media when there are a select few who don’t deserve our trust. At this moment, Brian Williams comes to mind. A life-long career ruined and his name smeared because for some reason, he decided to flat out lie to his trusting audience. But for every journalist who plagiarizes or lies, there are 10 who are upstanding citizens and have committed their lives to feeding knowledge to the world. Just like we shouldn’t judge all Muslims based on the extremists, we shouldn’t decry all of those in the media because of a few bad eggs.

The hatred goes a step further than this. Some citizens of our beautiful country think that the media makes it their goal to feed us lies. That they’re trying to distract us from something bigger going on by making every headline about another subject. Take for example, Ebola. While Ebola isn’t a new disease, a few months ago there was an epidemic. Some parts of Africa and the surrounding areas had an outbreak on their hands. Thousands of people died. Ebola even came to our country, so naturally it dominated news headlines across the country. Thanks to talented doctors and scientists, a treatment was developed that allowed some of those infected to be treated and cured. The outbreak slowed and those infected in the US were healthy again. Slowly but sure, Ebola faded from the teleprompters on the morning news and became a page 3 story as opposed to the front page. It’s a normal news cycle.

There were no nefarious intentions, but so many were flooding the comment thread. “What were they distracting us from?” Some even gave suggestions as to what was going on during the Ebola outbreak that the media would need to take our minds off of and hide from us. Some actually gave me a good laugh.

Why am I bringing this up now? I had a conversation with one of my closest friends today. She’s a Democrat, but I still love her anyway. We were discussing the election when she asked me if yesterday’s election determined our presidential candidates. I let out a chuckle before informing her that no, yesterday was a local and state election. The presidential candidates won’t be chosen for at least a few more months. She didn’t know, because she refuses to watch the news. She doesn’t pick up the newspaper. She doesn’t peruse online blogs or news websites.

I told her this was proof of what I have been telling her all along. She should read the news. She should be informed of what’s going on in the world and not rely on me to be a talking head who recites the day’s headlines whenever she asks. She should know about all of the presidential candidates and not blindly vote for the most popular Democrat because she’s registered that way.

“F the news. Media propaganda! All of it! That’s why deep down you want a different job. I refuse to be spoon fed poisonous lies by idiots who want to control our minds.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Where does she get this stuff? Where does anyone get this idea from? The media is not the enemy. If it weren’t for the media, where would we all be? We would be ignorant sheep, wandering around without proper clothing since we didn’t even know the weather forecast.

The takeaway? Pick up a newspaper! Flip on the local news while you get ready for work. Participate in healthy discussions about politics. No matter what your opinions, we should all be educated and informed. And just to drive the point home, there are no conspiracies, and the media isn’t trying to deceive you. We can’t help that not all news, is good news. We have dedicated our lives and careers to what we do. Some reporters and photographers even put themselves in harm’s way on more than one occasion. Give them the respect they deserve!