Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How the Media Manipulates Your World

Yesterday, a local Canadian journalist made the news her news, changing the focus from what was really the story, to what she wanted the story to be about.

Who could blame her – we all want our 15-minutes of fame, right? Though when I was a newshound not that many eons ago, there was this murky thing called objectivity which we always tried to abide by.

Being human, it is part of our very fabric to be subjective – that’s just human nature. But good journalists are aware of their own personal bias, and although we may not always be able to check our emotions at the door, we always give all sides of the story to be fair and honest. And we certainly don’t use our subjective opinions to create the story.

Or at least, that’s the way it was way back when I was a reporter. But if you watched Toronto’s CityTV yesterday, you’d think otherwise.

Yesterday, a municipal politician announced he was running for mayor in Toronto, ON., Canada – the elections are to be held later in the year. He made the announcement at a party he held at a nightclub, where fans, foes, and the media turned up for the event.

The CityTV reporter who was covering the event uses a wheelchair to get around. The venue the wanna-be mayor chose to throw his bash wasn’t wheelchair accessible.

Naturally, the reporter questioned the politician on his inaccessible choice for his party, and this dialogue had the effect of overshadowing the rest of the story, making the story all about the reporter’s personal struggles, rather than what the story was really about – a local city counselor launching his campaign to be the next mayor.

Not that accessibility for the disabled isn’t important, everyone should have access to public events. And in Ontario Canada they shall. All public facilities must be wheelchair accessible by 2025 under a new law.

Even the freshly minted candidate for mayor knew this, as he mentioned it in his rebuttal to the reporter who pushed him on this topic, but then the story cut to a scene where the reporter could be heard sighing “awkward” as two men carried the reporter and wheelchair together down a flight of stairs.

The news media covers the news – it shouldn’t be making it up as it goes along. It isn’t as if the news director has a hidden agenda, or maybe the reporter did?
Or maybe they both did?

Though when your news director, a staff reporter, or both, have a hidden agenda, I suppose it doesn’t matter – we make this stuff up, right?

Wrong – very wrong.

Although it is impossible for us human beings to be completely objective and unbiased in our views, when it comes to truth story telling – which is what good journalism is – intentionally manipulating events to sell personal opinions isn’t truth story telling anymore. That’s what opinion and editorials (op ed) pieces are for, because those are clearly referenced as the opinions of the reporter.

When “news” is wrapped in select opinions and packaged as the way things really are in the world, it intentionally misleads and confuses us, instead of giving us the information we are entitled to, so that we can make our own educated and informed decisions.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment