The Parthenon

Editorial: Hold the media to a higher standard

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As Americans, we are in an unprecedented point of our nation’s history. It seems like every other month we are recovering from a mass shooting and just recently had the worst in United States history occur. A drug epidemic continues to ravage the community, especially in our own back yard. The media is called into question at every turn, and no one knows what to believe anymore. These are trying times.

In these trying times, politicians are often criticized for expressing political views immediately after a tragedy. One perfect example from the recent events in Las Vegas comes from Hillary Clinton’s tweet, which we have all read by now. In case you haven’t, it stated, “The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”

Clinton has been slammed in the media, on social media and by other politicians for this statement posted less than 12 hours after the shooting took place. Where is the decency in making something about political gain so quickly?

However, the media should not have been so quick to judge Clinton’s actions, because they were doing almost the exact same thing. On Monday, before it had even been revealed how the Las Vegas shooter had obtained his guns, the mainstream media began either calling  for or against gun control.

Less than 24 hours after the largest mass shooting in our country’s history, the media had already began making the situation about what President Donald Trump should or shouldn’t do politically, what moves congress should make and what kind of laws Nevada and other states need in terms of gun control. Where should the line be drawn?

Reporters have gotten a reputation as being vultures, and some are beginning to live up to those expectations. Before all the bodies had been identified, before most families even knew whether or not their loved ones were safe, the media turned to politics.

The 24-hour news cycle has brought a lot of good with it, but it has also brought a lot of evil: the evil being that we have almost become desensitized to senseless acts of violence, so much so that many fail to question when opinions seep into news coverage during a tragedy.

The hurricanes are another example. Rather than discussing the tragedy in Puerto Rico, how long citizens have been without power and the lack of resources, the media instead chose (mostly) to criticize Trump and the way he was handling the situation. Whether you agree or not with the reaction Trump had, that should not have been brought in when there are still people who need help.

The media also criticized Melania Trump’s decision to wear heels on the plane to Texas after Hurricane Harvey. Rather than covering the fact that Trump was headed there, they instead chose to criticize what his wife was wearing before they even got there.

Let’s be clear: this is not to support or oppose any side of the political spectrum. This is not an editorial to propose policies. This is not a piece meant to tell anyone what side they should align with.

There is a blurring between the lines of what is opinion and what is true reporting, and this blurring has only worked to contribute to the distrust of the media. While there are a lot of factors to blame, the media itself should not squeak by without practices being called into question.

As journalists, as American citizens, and as humans, we should hold the media to a much higher regard. We should call for reporters to do the job they’re tasked with: seek the truth, report it and minimize harm. Be the government’s watchdog without picking them apart unnecessarily. Be the voice of the voiceless, not another political machine in a world that is already filled with more than enough of those.

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