Columns, Opinion

American Protest: The media is not your enemy

The media gets a lot of criticism these days. At this point, many of us in the industry have accepted that it is routine. This criticism has been especially venomous since President Donald Trump has taken every opportunity to yell “fake news” at the media. 

Invalidating the media and refusing to believe facts is a dangerous game.

The most recent criticism the media is facing is that they have been sensationalizing the coronavirus.

On February 26th, Trump tweeted “Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!”

His supporters have been quick to agree. I see similar critiques and refusal to believe the severity of this pandemic on my Facebook feed. If you are more concerned about media reporting than the pandemic itself, then you have your priorities in the wrong order.

This situation is serious and the media is conveying that. No one is telling people to panic and buy three years’ worth of toilet paper; people are doing that without the help of a frantic media. 

As an American citizen and consumer, it is your job to read reliable news and have a variety of sources to gather the news. Anyone can write anything and it is the reader’s burden to find the correct information and not blindly believe.

For some reason, many haters of the media have got it in their head that every tweet they read is on the same level as, for instance, a three-month-long story from The New York Times that was edited over and over again. There is bad journalism out there, but it cannot be used to discredit good journalism. 

Judge Jeanine Pirro from Fox News attacked the media last week for creating “doomsday reporting” about the virus and forcing unnecessary precautions such as cancelling March Madness and taking children out of school. She also suggested that the media is causing the economy to suffer because it is making people panic.

The media is not causing any of this — the deadly virus that killed 380 people in one day in Italy is.

Some people are saying there should not be as much coverage on the virus as there is now and that, by over-covering, the media is causing a panic. The last thing we need in a time like this is less information. People are calmed by information and it leads to smarter decisions, like choosing to stay home rather than going to a crowded bar. 

To take aim at the media during this time just shows your level of ignorance because you will not even acknowledge the severity of the situation. You are too concerned with yelling “fake news” at every article to consider that some of this information could be life-saving if you just paid attention. 

I have grown used to the ignorant attacks on journalism and I always knew that, most of the time, they had no credibility — journalism seemed like it would persist. This time though, ignorance is getting people killed. 

Journalists are not trying to create panic and the media is not responsible for a panicked person’s emotions and actions. They are reporting important facts — something Trump and his supporters do not actually care much about apparently. 

Stop believing every claim Trump makes and read an article that was fact-checked and edited by a reputable organization. Maybe then you will start to realize journalism is about keeping citizens informed.

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