We often like to believe that the media today is completely unbiased and true. It’s comforting to assume that our trusted news sources only provides us with the raw, whole and unabridged truth; but this assumption is incorrect more often than not.
A piece of common knowledge, although one that is often widely unpopular, is the understanding that the American public receives a very small amount of information from the media. This is in part because some information is classified on a “need to know” basis. Let us not forget, however, that the media and every popular news source today has an agenda to fulfill.
Realistically, we only see what the media want us to see. But how exactly can we be expected to put our unwavering faith in the news when we cannot ever be guaranteed the whole truth?
Is it the media’s obligation to report on every matter concerning the public?
More importantly, does that obligation change when the matter involves confidential information? While some news sources are undoubtedly more or less credible than others, it can be assumed that we are getting most of the truth. But whose truth is it exactly? Further, is part of the truth better than all of it?
I feel like most recently, when I use different sources to get my news — whether it be social media, television, radio or the old-fashioned newspaper — I’m not just getting news, I’m getting perspectives. When I read a story, I’m not just reading a story, but an experience as told from one individual point of view. In this manner, we are never solely given cold, hard facts from our news sources, but rather a collection of fulfilled agendas and perspectives from larger and external actors.
To believe that the media doesn’t participate in a grander scheme, or that they are inactive in public propaganda, is an ignorant mentality in the most basic sense.
Consider for instance, the release of the Russian dossiers into the public sphere. If we can suppose that just about every successful and well-respected news source had some intel on the dossiers before their initial release, we can also expect that the majority of news sources opted to keep that information private.
At the same time, however, CNN and BuzzFeed purposefully decided to publicize the unsubstantiated information. This was a risk that news sources would never have taken in the past. Today’s media is approaching a crossroads: to take a risk with the release of unsubstantiated news, or to remain silent and cautious while the public remains in the dark.
Who’s to say that the release of the dossiers wasn’t an act of public justice? Maybe now is the time to consider that the media is quickly changing and “safe” publications are truly a thing of the past.