I am saddened by the present role of journalists in America. Today’s journalists are caught up in trying to remain objective while not taking a stand on social issues.
Newspapers report the news and magazines shell out sex tips, while myriad problems are affecting millions of people. Though these problems are reported by the press, they are not acted upon. Solutions are not offered, suggestions are suppressed, and all that is left is, “A man, 44, died today in his Upper Moreland home.”
I don’t see how this information can be valuable to the reader because he or she is stuck in a society in which such “news” has become social currency. On the train, a news savvy person can say, “So did you hear about the man in Upper Moreland who died?” This makes the person seem intelligent when such “news” is truly trivial.
I would rather read a eulogy or a poem about that man, or better yet an article on what we as a society and as individuals can do to prevent deaths like his than a banal recording of events.
We as a society no longer need newspapers that report tragedy as news and then complain about social trends in the editorial section. Instead, it should be granted that all “news” is actually editorial. Indeed, editors choose what news to cover and what not to cover — what facts to include and not to include, and what “angle” to take on every story. This choice alone makes the entire publication subjective.
The objectiveness of the news is further confused by a political correctness that warps events and people into sterile terms. Human beings become African-Americans, homosexuals, octogenarians, and Asians, which are such catchall terms that they might as well be omitted. It’s getting to the point that I’m scared to call people black, gay, old, or Chinese. This fear is a result of a world that consists of carefully layered meanings, which only serve to deflect the biases of the media.
Journalists should write to educate the masses, to invoke social hope and to alleviate problems, not just identify them. This can be done by shedding the baggage called “objectivity”. With all of the judicial goings on in Florida, everyone knows that even Supreme Court justices cannot afford to be subjective, let alone beat reporters.
Instead of reporting on pseudo-events like the Republican National Convention, journalists should be looking at the U.S. war in Colombia, which may become a modern day Vietnam and try to rally support against it. Instead of creating careers that perpetuate the proliferation of platitudes, we journalists should be crafting stories such as those which educate people on groups like blacks and Muslims, and offer valuable information on consumer recalls or new medicines, and analyze new legislation, organize protests, and elevate social consciousness.
It is important to remember that journalists are not to be revered because we can see things in a less biased light than others, but because we have the talent and ability to educate, inform, and affect the public. In fact, keeping the public informed of the real issues, not just the ones that affect celebrities or sell copies, is our duty. The next generation of journalists must throw out their aspirations for objectivity and replace it with the goal of what we Jews call “Tikun Olam” — fixing the world.