Make U.S. mainstream media great again.
Last year, I cowered at political discussions. Not because my opinions weren’t valid (I’d done my research), but because of the constant judgments and negative reactions received on a daily basis because of my political decision to vote for former T.V. celebrity, Donald Trump (even though I originally wanted Florida Senator Marco Rubio in that Oval Office).
Immediately after the election, I began writing an opinion article to clear up mindless judgments made against me, and my peers alike. It seemed as if people were treating me like Donald Trump himself, not someone who just casted a vote hoping for the betterment of our country. I even feared how I’d be looked at as Editor-in-Chief of Zu News––would people really think I wouldn’t be capable of writing articles objectively? Or even worse, would my opinion article stand in the way of my job applications after graduation, as if somehow my vote undermines my ability as a journalist?
I wrote last year that I didn’t “regret my vote, because I made an educated decision. I don’t know too many people who can genuinely admit that they researched both candidate’s policies before voting. I voted for economic freedom, individual liberty and healthcare premiums that don’t amount to what a mortgage would be. I voted for less government and more freedom.”
What Trump has accomplished since Election Day may not be considered accomplishments to everyone, due to each individual’s political agenda. So I won’t write about the many things he has or hasn’t accomplished, but rather how our mainstream press has failed during Trump’s presidency so far.
When it comes to reading the news, journalists will tell you to be weary of bias. Not just bias of the author’s voice, but bias of issue. Political issues are split simply: Republican issues and democratic issues––what’s important to each party is purely subjective.
In the modern U.S. press, there are more liberal-dominated news outlets than there are conservative. This means that a majority of the news we consume on a daily basis lacks intellectual diversity, if the reporters who are controlling what content we read is filtering out issues based solely on what they believe is the most important. In addition, clickbait is a reliable source for many media outlets to have their articles read. A headline with “Trump” in it is more likely to get clicked on than other trending news.
In a New York Post article, former democrat and National Public Radio (NPR) CEO Ken Stern opened up about his time as a liberal working at NPR.
“When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be,” he said in the article.
Stern spent a year embedding himself “with the other side” in attempt to learn what issues were important to conservatives.
“I found an America far different from the one depicted in the press and imagined by presidents (“cling to guns or religion”) and presidential candidates (“basket of deplorables”) alike,” Stern said.
As part of Stern’s journey to understand conservatives, he spent time with working families in depressed areas of Kentucky and Ohio who felt their concerns had been long forgotten by mainstream media and former governments.
“They mourned the passing of the old days, when factory jobs were plentiful, lucrative and honored and lamented the destruction and decay of their communities, their livelihoods and their families,” Stern said. “To a man (and sometimes a woman), they looked at media and saw stories that did not reflect the world that they knew or the fears that they had.”
It’s deeply concerning that our modern press lacks the ability to cover issues that are important on both sides of the political spectrum. Outlets are now facing tough scrutiny under President Trump, including a threat to have their licenses revoked because of the worldwide distribution of “fake news.”
Despite my feelings toward the media’s role in creating more division, less understanding of both political parties and deeply exaggerated headlines, it’s an alarming and inappropriate attack on America’s free press system by our Commander in Chief. However, the media can’t expect to cover their version of America and not face repercussions.
“We should all be worried that more than 65 percent of voters think there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media and that our major media institutions are seen as creating, not combating, our growing partisan divide, ” Stern continued. “Some of this loss of reputation stems from effective demagoguery from the right and the left, as well as from our demagogue-in-chief, but the attacks wouldn’t be so successful if our media institutions hadn’t failed us as well.”
The problem lies in the sole fact that both liberals and conservatives “are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals,” according to a 2014 Pew Research study. When both parties are discussing issues important to their ideologies and how to resolve them amongst their like-minded peers, little progress is made because the other side to the argument is perpetually ignored.
Pew Research also revealed that consistent liberals were more likely than “those in other ideological groups to block or ‘defriend’ someone on a social network – as well as to end a personal friendship – because of politics.”
This political polarization is dangerous to the common good of all Americans. If this path of one-sided reporting continues, the conversations in underrepresented communities will increasingly be silenced.
“You can’t cover America from the Acela corridor, and the media need to get out and be part of the conversations that take place in churches and community centers and town halls,” Stern said.
Long term, average Americans are the ones who will suffer the consequences of biased media. Until the press system achieves diversity of culture, gender and intellectual ideologies, America won’t be as great as we hoped.