Honesty is undoubtedly very important and is particularly crucial in journalism. Journalists serve an important role in educating the public on important matters both in their own country and in the world. Without honesty in the news, the audience cannot rely on the information being reported. In a democracy, where the citizens of the country make important decisions, it is essential for the news to be fact-based and reliable.
Today, more than ever, the internet provides a platform for so many supposed “news” sources to report without any accountability as to the truth. With traditional media competing with these new sources to attract more viewers, the line between real journalism and opinion journalism is being blurred.
Many people can no longer tell the difference between what is news and what are opinions. One of the first things taught in the KO journalism class is that journalists who report on news have a duty to report accurate and unbiased information. While this seems to be obvious, many times news articles and stories have opinions laced in them that often go undetected by their audience.
With many news broadcasting companies there is little clarification on which shows or programs are reporting both accurate and relevant news, and which shows are reporting opinion based news. For example, on Fox News, Shep Smith is a news journalist who is bound by journalistic standards and ethics, while the program Fox and Friends is influenced entirely by the opinions of its entertainment personalities who present themselves as though they are serious news journalists. This is true for almost every news channel and source. This can get quite confusing. It is quite damaging and dangerous because people think they are watching the news when in reality they are hearing the opinions of so called “news journalists.”
Also, some news sources only report on certain topics that advance the agenda of their corporate owners. This is troubling when large corporations are allowed to own many types of media companies including newspapers, networks and internet companies.
Consolidation of media control into just a few companies makes it far more likely that they will push a narrow agenda which financially benefits them. Sinclair Broadcast Group is a large corporation which recently forced its local news organizations to report corporate-dictated messages to their audiences. This is dangerous because these large organizations are turning real news into biased news.
Clickbait is another issue that plagues the news because it is often misleading and inaccurate; it serves as a way to create revenue since many news sites are able to charge more money for advertisements on their sites based on views, but often times the actual stories have little or no value in educating the population. Many people also simply see the headline and it can cause the reader or viewer to be misinformed. These clickbait headlines are ways to grab people’s attention and to amuse them.
Anyone can label themselves a news source without having any qualifications. There are many websites labeled as news sites when in fact they are reporting their opinions on news rather than just straight news. People see the word “news” and they think that the source must be reliable, but many of these sources report false information or biased stories.
All of these issues create a distrust in news. Doubtfulness of the news creates many issues for society. It leads to people coming up with insane conspiracy theories and the spread of false information. People pick and choose which sources they use for their news so they can read, hear, or see what they want to. Because of dishonest journalism, people make uninformed decisions.
This directly affects our nation because voters who control the future of the country are not educated. It is the obligation of U.S. citizens to inform themselves on important matters and in today’s media environment one can’t rely on just one single source; they have to compare information from different news sources and be conscious of how reliable their sources are.