In today’s world the media is all around us. News content is at people’s fingertips twenty-four hours a day and from multiple outlets. It is our jobs as journalist to give the viewer the facts and information so that they can understand the story. However it seems all too often that when watching or reading anything media related there is a biased or slanting of the story because the writers or editors have personal feelings on the matter.
In the assigned readings “Reports, Inferences, Judgments” by S.I. Hayakawa and “The Medium is the Metaphor” by Neil Postman it touches on these issues and how we as journalist need to understand how the media is supposed to work and give the viewer the news without any preconceived notions. “Inferences may be carefully or carelessly made. They may be made on the basis of a broad background of previous experience with the subject matter or with no experience at all.” (Hayakawa, 37) This quote is exactly what we have talked about multiple times in class; we must separate ourselves from ourselves. In other words, as journalist we must check our emotions, beliefs and preconceived notions at the door and report the facts to a wide audience. If we bring our own personal beliefs to our writing or broadcasting we might imply something that can be taken out of context by our viewers. If this happens then our judgments on certain views can stop thoughts on the subject by our viewers and thus tainting the news we deliver. We must understand that we are the mediators; we have to give information on an issue or an event to a broad audience. We cannot infer or slant our media, we give the facts and information, and then we let the audience decipher the information as they see fit. Most likely the way a 50 year-old-man deciphers the information will certainly be different than a 20 year-old-man, however we did not persuade them to have these views they created them on their own, and that is the difference. Let the audience decide what they want to take away from the media, not the other way around (we the media, tell the audience to feel this way, or have these notions about someone or something.)
It also goes beyond writing or what we say during a broadcast. It is also the way we choose to portray and view the people in our stories, in “The Medium is the Metaphor” Postman talks about this in the first part of the chapter. “We may have reached the point where cosmetics have replaced ideology as the field of expertise over which a politician must have competent control.” (Postman, 42) When reading this quote I think back to the presidential election and can remember discussing in my Multimedia Journalism class about how the media was portraying Barack Obama in a more positive light than John McCain. The angles and lighting seemed to be more favorable towards the younger and thinner Obama and thus could have helped persuaded people to favor him. On Election Day the OU Daily’s front page was a large picture of Obama with McCain nowhere to be in sight. Without even reading the headline the Daily was in favor of Obama and showed their bias when reporting the event.
It is a very thin line to walk for the media; it could be one word or the way we phrase a statement or sentence that can have us leaning to one side to the spectrum or the other. It is a tool that we must craft and work at so that when it comes time to use our tools we are able to do so in the proper manner. We have discussed this topic in class as well. Being able to report unbiased and straight is what separates us from every blogger or so called “journalist” out there. This is our skill that most people do not posses and if we as young journalist can understand the correct way to portray media and begin to utilize this skill right now, we might be able to lead by example and hopefully many will follow.