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Editorial: What’s the media’s role anyway?

Whether you identify as a Republican, Democrat, Independent, a Clinton or Trump supporter, there is one universal truth no one can deny: the media has been under attack. Despite attached tags that citizens have placed like ‘liberal media’, ‘conservative’, ‘biased’, the media’s loss of credibility is a crucial problem to address because the press should serve as the fourth branch of government.

Is it fair to sweep facts under the rug because they make one political candidate or institution look bad, or claim a news outlet is ‘liberal’ simply for their choice of wording, despite their facts being accurate? The names that have been stuck on the media’s image have caused multiple outlets and the field as a whole to lose credibility, which is incredibly dangerous because often times the media is the only fact-checker that’s actually accurate.

But we won’t focus on such a subjective and never-ending political debate. What are some issues that a university or local paper should be covering?

The choice to write this editorial came after reading the quote on page 4, in the story about Panther Shuttle drivers’ salaries.

Jeffery Davis, General Manager of MV Transportation told one of The Signal’s reporters that the choice of the drivers to reach out to our newspaper and voice their concerns was “unprofessional”, saying it is a “great way to lose a contract.”

Is it fair to threaten employees for reaching out to a news outlet? Is the media supposed to turn a blind eye to people who feel they’ve been treated unjustly? We would not be fair if all of our stories provided praise for the institutions we represent or if we chose to write only positive stories about companies associated with Georgia State and overlook their mistakes. What is best for the public interest? And who works on the side of lower/middle-class workers who don’t have the influence of money and power on their side?

The media is not the enemy of the people. We strive to be their voice. If at times we misinterpret or misrepresent information, we’re open to corrections and criticism – mistakes arise from human nature, not from our political leanings.

In a recent interview with NBC, former President George W. Bush said the media is “indispensable to democracy.”

“Power can be additive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere,” he said.

The people in power have a lot on their side; our job is to make sure the public hears a combination of powerful voices and the voices of those who may not have the exposure guaranteed by power.

The drivers did not raise any concern for the company violating laws, but instead, they shared their grievances about their salaries. We fail to see how employees reaching out to us for their concerns is unprofessional and unfair to students; rather, it is an important issue that needs addressing.

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