This is a piece I wrote that appeared in the Record Searchlight on 8/23/04. I wrote this after reading, for the upmteenth time ,in a letter to the editor that stated President Bush was appointed by the supreme court. Some people just don't live in the real world.
We all have heard a lot lately the phrase " freedom is not free". Well, I believe that "freedom of the press" is also not free. Journalism requires a due diligence to report the facts in an accurate and unbiased manner. If the news is not reported in an unbiased manner, it is just propaganda. It is incumbent upon journalists and editors to uphold these standards in order for " Freedom of the Press" to have the desired effect as intended by the framers of the constitution.
I believe the print and electronic media have been for a long time, slowly but surely, letting biased reporting creep into their stories and reports. I first noticed the editorializing on network television news ,the eyebrow raised here, the smirk emerging there. Subtle voice inflections are also used to convey opinion and taint stories. The frequency of reporting on a certain story can distort the actual relevance or impact the event had in the first place. The practice of running stories over and over with minutiae added to each edition is usually just exploitation (for profit) at best and pushing an agenda at worst. I won't give examples here, as I'm sure everyone reading this has conjured up their own.
The types of bias pointed out in the previous paragraph also occur in the print media. Subtle voice inflections are replaced by the subjective qualifers added to someone’s name or actions. The print media usually has an editorial section, where opinions belong. However the print media fails in the editorial section too often as well. To quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." Very often you will see, in the letters to the editor section, letters containing statments of fact that are not fact at all, yet they are published anyway. The misstatement of facts can mislead and sway public opinion or push a particular agenda.
If we do not have a free and unbiased press, reading the “paper” or watching the “news” is a worthless endeavor, if your intentions by doing so are to become informed. No logical conclusions or decisions can be based on what you read or hear in a biased media. Leave the opinions for the opinion section of the paper and the opinion shows on television.
It is my opinion that you editors and reporters should take your responsibility to heart and remember that it is not your job to make the world a better place (in your opinion), but to report on the world as it is.