There’s an important set of definitions that need to be drawn in the sand to identify the duty of news media.
First, media, as defined by Wikipedia, is tools used to store and deliver information or data. News, as a literal definition, is information about recent events or developments. However, news media and the outlets that bring them to a national audience, are not in any way simply a magnified sum of these two constructs because the literal sum would be a means to deliver and garner fact.
This is so far from the reality that the average person on the street will tell you, that news media is less about spreading fact and more about spreading narrow half-truths that support a predetermined bias.
Kenjamin Maddy, Bellevue College student and continual contributor to my opinionated efforts, believes that the purpose of news media is, “to inform people, that’s their job. They’re supposed to give unbiased opinions, or at least perspective if they want to show a bias.”
Now, as the first quarter of the fastest century yet seen by man tumbles along, it seems less and less as though even these agendas, which at least display some facts in a context that allow a third-party to sift through and gather the truth, are getting the attention they deserve. Instead, these topics fall to the wayside in favor of things that are cute and happy.
“There are pictures of snowmen on KOMO 5, and then there are kids in Yemen that are starving, and I’ve never seen them talk about that!”
But is there really anything wrong here? According to Amanda Olson, Arts&Features Editor, of the Watchdog “the purpose of news media is to present the public with unbiased information regarding local, international or intergalactic happenings.”
But even this feels lacking. Can a news outlet air hour upon hour of cute baby pictures and repeat the same clips of drunken deer stumbling through bars and still consider itself legitimate to its purpose?
The purpose of a newspaper should be to itself, as an organism, to keep itself afloat.
Since the revenue from sales never even touches on the cost to publish, especially with a free paper like the one this article will appear in, the first duty of a newspaper is to its advertisers, and by effect its first duty is to attracting a mass of people.
But is it? Is yellow journalism not only to be expected, but accepted and welcomed? Is it a good thing to allow these entities to expand beyond their use, to the point where the only way they can stay afloat is to become part gossip magazine?
“As a human being,” Maddy adds, “I’m happy that I get to see a cute baby girl on the news, it’s OK. But then, as a news station, they have to work on real stories. All the shit going down in Washington that never gets reported,” needs to be properly covered in a thought provoking way, rather than the flashiest and most reaction provoking way.
“Sometimes you don’t need to know about the worst stuff in the world, but there needs to be a balance.”