As the news media enters a frenzy of action heading towards the November election, I am left wondering if, collectively, they are doing their jobs properly. Not that I’m accusing most journalists of bias, but I am wondering if they report on the actions of politicians differently than they report on other types of news.
It seems to me that when a politicians stands on a stage and makes a claim, whether it’s about an opponent or a a group or an issue, the media has some responsibility to validate the claim before they report it. Otherwise they are not reporting news; they are becoming proxies of the politician’s campaign. Politicians know that the statements they make don’t need to be true. They do know that if they proclaim them loudly enough and often enough that the statement will take on a life of their own, even after the truth comes out. To allow this practice to continue in the misguided application of “reporting the news” does a major disservice to all of us who are trying to actually learn what is going on.
I’m not talking about policy decisions but about claims of fact, of history. If a politicians says his or her opponent did something, the media should validate that claim before they report it. If the claim is true, then report it. If the claim is false, then it seems to me the story is the lie (or mistake). Granted, there is a lot of gray area there but there ought to be more to journalism than putting a microphone in front of a politician.
Take some of the hype out of the process. Stop being used and start doing your jobs as journalists!