Does the mainstream media really know their job description?
The Truth War – JonChristopher “Jayman” Alan Collins – JANUARY 2, 2018
The press had enemies long before the penning of the First Amendment. However, the mainstream media and many of their journalists have critics due to the media’s perversion of their perceived job description.
This can be undone by educating all people about the foundation which the Founding Fathers laid out for journalists to work from. That will equip audiences to hold their journalists accountable; then journalists will be enabled to effectively hold their governments and their officials accountable.
It comes as no shock to many people that journalists working in any facet of the mass media can be dishonest. Those same people arrive at a state of shock when they learn of the arrogance and deceitfully deceptive manipulation of public opinion that many people in the mainstream media engage in continuously. Journalists like James O’Keefe and others make this undeniable truth even more evident. As a journalist, my distrust of the mainstream media grows every time I see and hear stories of their disregard for journalistic ethics and the history of journalism that I and other journalists were taught as university journalism students. Mainstream media journalism is a distant memory from the past and present muckraking truth seekers and tellers who know that real journalism is meant to be the ultimate quest for truth. Journalism has become so twisted that it is seen by some practitioners and consumers as a quest for celebrity status. I love asking people of all ages where they get their news; I am disheartened and slightly amused to hear answers that include the names of several prominent figures in the entertainment industry. Perhaps this is why many mainstream media journalists hunger and thirst for the false affirmation celebrity status can bring more than they do the truth.
From the first mass media course I took, I was educated about the importance of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding journalism. I remember thinking how that should be rightly understood by journalism students before anything else was taught. The question of whether or not it is rightly understood still plagues my thoughts today. One lesson that I will never forget is the following acronym that sums up the job description of a journalist: PIE. It stands for persuade, inform and entertain. While there should be a balance between the three, many journalists ignore this teaching. I have read news articles and watched news broadcasts in which the writers and hosts seem more occupied with persuading and entertaining their audience than actually informing them. In response to that, I have reordered the acronym to put inform first, persuade second and entertain last.
The above example is not applicable to late night comedy hosts even though many of them attempt to pass for journalists. Granted, not all journalists are the same. Some journalists are humorists who focus primarily on the entertainment aspect of journalism, and that is fine. However, if supposed serious news journalists branch out into the realm of pure opinion and entertainment that is a different story entirely. In a nutshell, journalistic standards are as simple as ABC. They are the standards of accuracy, brevity and clarity. President Donald John Trump and his administration have tried to hold all journalists to these standards.
Despite those efforts, some mainstream media professionals continue to exhibit an attitude of arrogant elitism. They present themselves as more qualified and more capable than their audience to access and interpret information. “Also interesting is remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents, it’s different for the media. So everything you learn about this you’re learning from us,” CNN anchor Chris Cuomo said. The idea that a journalist would tell their audience, “so everything you learn about this you’re learning from us” sounds like an attempt to discredit other sources of information. That is most certainly not the job of a journalist no matter what company they work for.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 16, 2016
The most amusing part is that while Cuomo claims that the emails from the WikiLeaks Clinton email release were manipulated secondarily, that does not stop CNN from using those same emails to propagate their Trump-Russian collusion narrative.
I once thought I was alone in noticing the arrogant elitist attitude previously mentioned until a fellow classmate spoke with me about the following example in a state and local government class. I always make sure to ask questions and contribute to the learning process in classroom settings. My fellow pupil and I discussed how we both had witnessed Mika Brzezinski utter words while discussing President Trump’s treatment of the media that were scary to hear. Brzezinski’s words perfectly embody the arrogantly elitist attitude examined in this article. They were words I will not soon forget. “If the economy worsens, [Trump] could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think, and that is our job,” Brzezinski said.
According to journalism ethics and standards, Brzezinski’s words are false. Brzezinski should know it is the media’s job to provide the public with information. It is not the job of any person to control exactly what other people think. That includes all journalists.
As a journalist, I am confident enough in my profession to criticize it. As I told another student in the state and local government class, I am happy to see President Trump hold the media accountable; the media needs to be reformed. The response I received was rather disappointing. To laugh at the idea of questioning the media is almost identical to laughing at the notion of questioning government officials and their narratives.
Amid the beginning of the hysteria over war with North Korea, Brian Williams appeared to forget what he is responsible to do as a journalist. “Our job tonight actually is to scare people to death on this subject so the talk isn’t as free as it is about a preemptive or a surgical military strike,” Williams said.
While war is not favorable, attempting to scare the public does not fix anything and it is nowhere to be found in the job description of a journalist. Journalists and all citizens need to look at the words of the Founding Fathers regarding the freedom of the press. Thomas Jefferson literally said liberty depends on the press. He and his colleagues understood this. If the Founding Fathers understood this, then so must present-day Americans. Once the mainstream media’s audience understands this, it is important to hold all journalists accountable and ask them to reexamine what it means to be a journalist. If journalists do not properly understand the foundations of journalism, then they will be unable to properly do their job. Only after Americans do their part to hold their presses, their governments and their officials accountable can journalists do the same.