Friday, October 16, 2015

Balancing Silence and Noise

Abigail Gryzik

Imagine a world where we have no differences. A world where we don’t have diverse or intriguing backgrounds that excite us; one where each of us looks identical, experiences the same things every day, and comes from the same place. I know what you’re thinking – impossible, right? But what if it was. Would the lack of individuality help news organizations avoid bias as a whole, or would it rob us from what makes our world, our world?

And I have to ask, at what point did having an opinion become “wrong”? Isn’t it in our hardware to think, look, and speak differently? While it is clear that news stations such as CBS News or ABC News happened to not cover specific stories in a strategic motion, I think we need to take into consideration that sometimes, that not every single news station can cover every event in the world. I do think, however, that they have a duty to remain consistent, not in their “bias” or views, but in their wide range of coverage. That characteristic needs to be absolutely stable.

For example, in the Washington Post article, Paul Farhi writes about his confrontation with ABC when he asked about the lack of coverage over the Gosnell story, “An ABC News representative, Julie Townsend, declined comment.” They say silence speaks volumes.

We can see that the disturbing story is clearly widespread and controversial – one that all kinds of readers would tune into. The question is, why did FOX News cover this and ABC News did not?

On the other hand, it blows my mind that, in this day and age, every single thing is scrutinized, dug into and criticized. It’s as if we are living under a microscope. Watch Rachel Maddow expose newspapers and their supposed “brainwashing” nationwide:

We live in a world where everything you share, retweet, and favorite can and will be used against you in the court of life. But it doesn’t stop there. Everything you don’t share, retweet, or favorite can and will be used against you as well. While in a sense this has a power to hold us accountable, we can miscommunicate ourselves and our thoughts to the world. The words we use have the power to skew perspectives worldwide.

Courtesy of The New Yorker

Check out those words! “Wins big.” “Biggest winner.” I'll let the terms speak for themselves.

Before reading these articles, I never considered that news reporters simply retweet news on their Twitter feed to compile the latest and most relevant stories, not because they agree with them, but because they want to share the breaking news with their followers. When I see someone retweet something, I see it as a form of “supporting” those words from the tweet; however, not everyone views Twitter in the same light.

Meg Heckman states in her journalistic objectivity blog post that she often hesitates before hitting the “retweet” or “favorite” button on Twitter. I know that feeling because I, too, hesitate before sharing an article or retweeting something I found hilarious on the social media site. I fear it will only get trickier as time goes on because our world is becoming more digitalized. Reality is, our world is spending more time living through a computer screen than in the life in front of our eyes.

While we watch ourselves closely and think hard before releasing anything to the public, we need to be conscious of our efforts to not leave things out. If it is newsworthy, it should receive coverage. A piece from Student News Daily discusses media bias in celebrities and how they seem to get away with their repeated hypocrisy merely because news stations choose not to cover them. MRC Business had a few recommendations for those journalists reporting on environmental activism and philanthropy.

Courtesy of Student News Daily
One statement references the lovely SPJ Code of Ethics, "Don't Pick and Choose the News: The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics states that journalists should 'support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.' It is incumbent upon journalists to analyze the background for groups and individuals on both ends of the political spectrum."

Can I get a retweet? I believe as this world becomes more and more advanced in technology, we need to make more and more of a conscious effort to remain just in our work, giving every piece of news an unbiased shot at prime time.

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