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Media refers to all the tools and devices used to store and deliver information or data to a number of people who did not have it initially. Access to information that an individual needs is their democratic right according to the constitution of the United States of America. Whether or not the US media are serving its purpose, to deliver critical and vital information to the people as their democratic rights is an argument that has been there for decades.
Media houses are always on toes trying to get the latest information in the shortest time possible. This helps to satisfy the demands of their clients and the public in general but are they relying serving their purpose? Is the information getting to the people in time? Is the information that gets to the people real? Is the information that people read from the newspapers, hear on radios, watch on television and get from the internet the whole truth? Is some of the content hidden and censored?
These questions help evaluate the news media. Determination of whether the news media is on track and effective to the people according on the information content they give. The media news of United States of America is both profit oriented and non-profit enterprise. There must be governing laws to the content so as no individual can misuse the power of the news media. With these ratings, the Chicago News Media does not delivery, and the question at hand is why the Chicago news media is wrong?
The Importance of the news media cannot be emphasized further. News of the events happening around us determine the lives today and plans that we make for tomorrow. The news media are must be an independent entity that is government with few rules to ensure the freedom of speech and information maintenance. In the words of Jane Kirtley “It is not easy to live with a free press. But I know I could not live without it” (Pieter, 2008).
Free press helps watch the government and other public institutions that need scrutiny. The media act as the watch dog for the work to be done perfectly in the government and the corporate world. However, free press can also be misused by individuals for the satisfaction of their own agenda in the public domain. These agendas can be political, business, social religious or personal. This creates the basis for judgment of the news media as not delivering in their main function and reason for existence so as to offer information to the public.
History judges many news media houses fo0r crimes of deliberate omissions and bias toward the news coverage. Some of the content that is critical for an individual to make a judgment or be able to make a sound decision is not to be in disclosure. This information ranges from political campaigns, national security issues and mainly human rights issues concerning the wars that are happening in the whole world whether or not there is the involvement of the government of the United States of America. There is the prohibition of some of the information by law for instance publishing about troops movements during war time, obscene speech, covering companies which a journalist’s spouse works, tapping private information such as phone calls, religious deformation and many other instances. However, there are also instances where information that should be in the public domain does not get to the people. Some of the information given is also not real at times.
The government should be the watch dog or such cases. However, corrupt individuals in the government can also be used to make the news media fail. Thus, the other crucial question: who watches the watch dog? The news media should play this pivotal role in ensuring the watchdog is also watched.
There are many factors that make the news media not to have a licensing scheme. These includes the possibility of getting legal protection from ordinary citizens or other business, to reduce the miscellaneous taxes or fees from the government and the improvement of the legal proceeding and the demand of publications review.
On 11th September 2009, the president of the United States of America Barrack Obama was tending commemorative services at the pentagon in Washington D.C. there was the incidence where supposed hearing of gun shots from a vessel in the Potomac River still in Washington near the pentagon. Relying on nth information gathered from listening to police scanners, CNN and Fox Cable reported that the coast guard at the Potomac River had burnt a suspicious vessel. CNN also used the social network media, Twitter, to report the incidence saying “Coast Guard confronts boat as Obama visits Pentagon police scanner reports say shots fired.” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs accused the news media of misinformation to the public and did cause unnecessary panic among the citizens. This incidence attributes to a routine training exercise that the personnel involve themselves. Robert Gibbs went ahead to say “Before we report things like this, checking would be good” (Pieter, 2008).
The CNN staff claimed to have contacted the coast guard before reporting the incidence, and the information that the coast guard was unaware of any activity on the river. This incidence show’s what is wrong with the news media. They want to get it fast and first, but in this process, they should also be right. This information that had already gone viral on the social networks and the chances of misuse by individuals was present. Other the other hand, this information might have been right, but the government did prevent the public domain. The lack of evidence to ascertain the authenticity of the information made it invalid after the government’s explanation. This shows the other thing that is wrong with the news media, lack of evidence to prove information without reasonable doubt.
In his book “Buried by the Times” Laurel Leff, an associate professor at Northeastern University gives an account of how the New York Times deliberately hid some information of the Nazi atrocities against the Jews for what he terms as ideological reasons. This deliberate action of hiding information clearly reflects on what is wrong with the news media.
In an attempt to make headlines and higher sales, news media end up making unbearable mistakes. In November 2009, news week magazine had a cover page of Sarah Palin in sports gear. According to the editor, they chose be the best available picture that would suit the coverage of the edition but to Sarah Palin, she was being portrayed as a sex object. This would have possibly ruined her public image in the political circle, as a leader and as an author, which certainly was not the intention of the Newsweek. A part from making sales, the reputation of the individuals that feature in the news media should be given priority. Deformation is an admissible case in a court of law and thus media news should put this in perspective. Giving profits a higher priority that personality is the other thing that is wrong with the news media.
In May 2003, Jayson Blair, a 27 year old, New York times reporter resigned after allegations of plagiarism. This was as a result of plagiarism of a story about an American soldier in Iraq. The case considerations were that of the lowest point of the newspaper’s lively history and reputation. It is a surprise that, no stringent measures are in action to ensure reporters of the news media resist the temptation of involving themselves in plagiarism cases in order to get top stories. An apology and severe cleanout and restructuring of the newspaper staff went along the way in clearing this dent in the reputation but still the damage did happen. This is the other this that is wrong with the news media, lack of stringent laws to ensure that the information given to the public is original and authenticated.
News media should give citizens information though which they can make an informed decision, choices and judgment. During the 2008 presidential election campaigns, the campaign team for John Mc Cain wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times about bias in the coverage of the campaigns. Such bias in coverage gives one party more popularity than the others and thus leading to unfair competition due to better publicity by the favored party. This misleading information gives the citizens a wrong perspective about the reality on the ground and they end up making wrong choices based on biased assumptions. This makes the news media unreliable for political information addition to the list of issues that are wrong with the news media.
As much as there are the wrong things with the news media we should appreciate the fact that the news media has played a crucial role. This is through their efforts on eradicating corruption and being the whistle blower on human rights issues. Violation of many human rights especially ion war tear countries like Somalia where people face murder, rape and almost all their human rights and dignity stripped off them. The news media have been able to highlight these issues in a significant way and made the public aware of these events.
Of late, the world has seen the fall of various world dictators and governments that were hard to pull down. For instance, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Muamar Gaddafi of Libya were ousted from power. Theses revolutions started from social media where people discuss their rights and proper government. Those politicians who rule by an iron fist are corrupt and mistreat their citizens such revolutions should eradicate them.
The social network catalyzes the rapid spread of information by the news media like face book and twitter. These social sites are responsible for massive sharing of information whether positive or negative, and this attributes the availability of the internet at affordable cost and the freedom of speech and information. Such freedom enjoyed by every person as a constitutional right makes news media powerful entities within which nations can be built and destroyed.
Good causes have also been made possible through the news media. The Haiti catastrophe and the hurricane Katrina had diverse, negative effect s to the societies. Many lives and homes are lost in these unfortunate incidences. The news media can help in raising funds to make up for this loses. Music artists and other well wishers were able to raise funds for the support of the families that had suffered this loss. In this case, the news media came with a positive effect.
Inventions by individual that could save lives of many are made public by these news media services. Such discoveries would not take full effect if just used by a few selfish individuals. They would not want the world to share in this information age.
The power of news media is infinite. It can either have beneficial or harmful intentions. However, the news media does not get to its full potential, and they have so many flaws that taint their reputation. From bias, withholding information, political influence, breaks the copy write laws and many other incidences show what is wrong with the news media. Instead of giving all the information freely, in time and without withholding anything, a lot of editing and behind the scenes events censor information and at times give the wrong information that misguides the public for the benefit of a few selfish individuals.