Last Wednesday, Georgia State’s Center for Global information Studies (CGIS) hosted a panel of five ex-journalists and university professors to spitball on the reasons of the media’s downhill reputation ever since the Trump administration kicked off its reign.
In a panel consensus, the term ‘fake news’ was defined as propaganda prompted by “cultural differences, geographic differences, demographic differences,” a “completely different empirical reality” made up by the president. Indeed, it seems to be a term coined by the recent administration to describe anything that might not fit a party’s agenda, even if the reporting is nothing but accurate.
It has been a good opportunity for journalists to reflect on their work and realize that breaking the news might not be as important as accurately reporting it, and getting different points of views in a story is now as valuable as ever. But it seems that a rising concern now is not fake news, but irrelevant news. Is the media dropping the ball by reporting on all the wrong issues?
Let’s take the Puerto Rico disaster. Three weeks after Category 5 Hurricane Maria, the forgotten U.S. territory is still a disaster zone. More than two-thirds of the island remains powerless, without water and no way of communication. Yet, right as the hurricane struck and American citizens were pushed down onto their knees, many media platforms turned their attention to President Trump’s feud with the NFL. Sure, counting the number of football players taking a knee and the president’s response is important, but not as important as an entire island going underwater with no assistance from the federal government. Just a thought.
And it would be a lie to say that the worst terror attack in Somali history, which left over 300 people dead, has been underreported. It has not been reported at all. What’s currently headlining on CNN.com? “The Private Worries Among Trump Allies.” New York Times website? “Once Mocked” North Korean Cyberpower is a Global Threat.”
Can we get Trump to tweet out something like #SomalisAreExaggerating? That should get some attention.
The president will host his daily one-man circus, but that does not mean the media should be turning their heads in the same direction. What is a journalist’s job after all, besides providing citizens with educating the public on the most important and essential issues? There’s no other way America will pop its self-absorbed bubble if not prompted to do so by the media.
We want to read about the less able, less fortunate, and less opportune in war zones and crises so we can recognize our own privileges and as a country mobilize to aid our fellow global citizens — isn’t that what the world’s “most powerful nation” is responsible for and looked up to for doing anyways?
Come on, journalists. Be better. Tell us about the Rohingya, a Myanmar minority fleeing from their homes after being raped, killed, burned, and targeted indiscriminately by the government in their home country. Let us know about the people who are now aimlessly wandering nation-less, homeless, and alone in bordering countries like Bangladesh – nations who don’t want them anyway.
Tell us about the California fires, the natural disasters, and the stories that will overwhelm and stun us. We no longer want the stories which spark fruitless conversation about the President’s hashtag list and birth certificate jokes.