As we embark on a period of deliberation, uncertainty and contradictions being thrown into the limelight from different angles (whether it be in a newspaper or splashed across the Facebook walls of millions), we are forced to question the reliability of the media and what it really means to us today.
What is the purpose of the media?
As a broad term, the media is a cheap and effective medium of mass communication – something that should protect public interest and safeguard democracy. But how much of the media is representative of hard-hitting facts, and how much of it can we trust?
Theoretically speaking, newspapers should stick to solid fact and political impartiality. This is definitely not the case currently, as threats from far-right or far-left newspapers who have been allowed to extend their power to pass judgements about a person or group of people are influencing the attitudes of their readers.
What allows for ‘Bad’ media?
A pressing issue we have forgone in the media recently is the issuing of ‘Fake News’ filling our minds with fabrications and dishonesty. A particular incident, which was a direct repercussion of ‘Fake News’ supposedly issued by the Kremlin to facilitate a Trump victory in the Presidential Election, was the case of Comet Ping Pong in December.
The attention on social media regarding Hillary Clinton advocating the housing of sex slaves at the back of a Washington Pizzaria was ousted, after Edgar M. Welch (who was concerned with the rumour himself) fled his home with an AR-15 rifle to seek out the malpractice. In this case, public interests (particularly the interests of Welch who now resides in a high-security unit awaiting trial) had been neglected and the democracy of the USA had arguably been threatened.
The reliability of the media becomes even more of a concern with the evolution of technology, because now it has been suggested that ‘Fake News’ will cease to be purely text-based. We potentially have the facilities to fabricate sound recordings, photographs and documents which could cheat the justice system and falsely accuse the innocent. The consequences could be catastrophic.
It has been known for a complete lack of media coverage on certain events which emphasises the fall in the respectability of today’s media. For example, we seemed ignorant about the terrorist atrocities in Beirut, Baghdad and Ankara this last year amid Channel 4 buying out the BBC’s bid to keep The Great British Bakeoff (It ended up being one of the most talked about news stories in Britain in 2016).
How do we gain back control of our media?
It’s a difficult problem to solve, but one with incredible significance to the future of the modern world. Through social media (which is a completely different forum of mass communication), we have only recently started to take advantage of the power we possess. This is crucial because people are more likely to check Facebook and Twitter for sources of information.
Newspapers and press coverage of the recent Women’s March were completely overshadowed by the live coverage posted on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. But the most significant bruise to the press was the worldwide support it gained through these social forums in contrast to the perhaps more slanderous reaction of some Newsmakers.
I am of the strong opinion that for this current generation of budding journalists, the way to win over our media and eradicate the whirlpool of lies and hypocrisy is through being heard by millions through social media. That should be our goal.
As the Iron Lady said herself: “…we need the Principled Press to heed the power to call them on the carpet for every outrage”- Meryl Streep, 2017 Golden Globes.
words by Erin Softley