The power of the press affects the people

Illustration by Madison Cohen

The resounding truth is that journalism, now more than ever, must find itself rooted in ethical reporting.

Perhaps it is my passion for journalism that colors my opinion so heavily, but at the end of the day, this country’s democracy would not be in the state it is now without freedom of the press being guaranteed.

Without the daring reporters who fling themselves into war zones to report on the conditions, we as citizens would be left at the mercy of the government to tell us what to think or believe. That authority only leads to oppression, and so it is journalists who take on the role of informants.

This is why it is so crucial that journalists leave the public with knowledge that is accurate, responsible and fair.

There is a fine line between striving to get information that would benefit the public and actively crossing boundaries of privacy and human well-being.

Recently, I have seen the profession I love nosedive down a slippery slope of biased reporting and clickbait stories based on unsubstantiated rumors and gossip.

When I turn on the news, I can expect CNN to tell me everything President Donald Trump is doing wrong and can hear a decidedly more progressive take on the events of the world. I can expect FOX to tell me why President Trump is doing everything right and to provide a far more conservative view on news.

When I happen to come across articles by the Daily Mail, I can expect some outlandish article on the royal family or the latest rumored misdeeds of a celebrity.

I want real news back. I want objective takes on politics and the actions of public figures. Along with the American people and other consumers of media, I want responsibly garnered facts.

Instead of a reputable news station or paper reporting their opinion on the happenings of the world in a section that is only supposed to be reporting news information, they ought to inform. They must do this without the fancy trimmings and cunning embellishments that are often twisted into a narrative that fits the look and appeal of an establishment.

In a democratic nation such as the United States, we are granted the gift of voting and can decide who leads and represents our interests.

The power of making informed decisions that are entirely our own is stripped from us the second the media decides to report anything other than the absolute truth.

It is difficult to keep the opinions and biases that every human holds out of reporting. As a journalist, I can acknowledge that. But it is a burden that we undertake and uphold.

We have the daunting responsibility of accurately informing the public.

Whether it is about the actions of a politician or the actions of a celebrity, the standard remains the same. While responsibly informing the public is a huge facet of journalism, we must also be aware of the other aspect of our job, which is how we portray and treat the subjects of our stories.

It can be easy to commodify celebrities and politicians to the point their humanity starts to feel distant. Ultimately, the media’s words carry a powerful impact on their lives.

It was over 20 years ago, before I was even born, that the tragic loss of Princess Diana happened in part due to the paparazzi media. This event still lingers in the minds of people around the world and in my own.

While no members of the press who pursued Diana’s vehicle in that Paris tunnel were indicted on charges, they were heavily interrogated and it was concluded that negligence was present, as stated by a 1997 article from the Irish Times.

It cannot be ignored that the actions of journalists bent on getting content were a factor in the high-speed and ultimately fatal crash.

It is a bitter reminder that consequences await the steps taken to get a headline or an engaging feature. No flashy cover or front page article is worth a loss of life.

There is power in the press, and it must be exercised accurately and responsibly.