Media Warning: The danger of listening to yourself
I’ve been fascinated by the media coverage of the election for the last year and a half. As a communications professional and a self proclaimed student of politics, I’ve never seen or heard anything like the coverage that has been provided in America this year.
Journalism used to be held to a standard of objectivity, fairness and a pursuit of the truth. These standards have always been a difficult pursuit and with the advent of cable news and talk radio the quest has become even more difficult. However, what I saw this year was a complete and absolute abandonment of ethical journalism.
In it’s place, journalists forgot that their most valuable tool, their job, was to listen closely to everyone and they replaced it with a narcissistic infatuation of listening to themselves.
Harsh? I suppose it might be. However, I think as Americans, we can demand and should expect better from the media. If there is only one positive outcome from this election, I hope it is that the journalism profession takes the time to examine themselves and fix the issues that have allowed them to stray so far from their professional expectations.
Last night as I watched election coverage, I was amused to see looks of surprise on the faces of journalists who were stunned by the outcome they were being required to report. Phrases such as “unprecedented victory,” “shocking turn of events,” “we never saw this coming,” and “complete shock,” were uttered over and over again. “How did we get this so wrong?” was asked countless times.
You stopped listening. You stopped reporting and you got caught up in editorializing and that is why you are so dumbfounded.
Over the months of the campaign, it was shocking to me that to so many media outlets including radio, television and internet news forums seemed to band together to produce what I would term, “hit pieces” and disguise them as objective reporting. Radio DJ’s, internet reporters, and television news journalists alike created and sustained a media culture of distain, moral superiority and condescending discord. It was a steady diet that was served day in and day out.
In the process of hearing themselves talk and being ever more impressed with themselves, the noise they created halted their ability to listen to the American people. They sought out only those who looked and sounded and believed like they did and completely refused to recognize that there might be another perspective to consider. They closed their eyes to half of the American people and rendered them silent. Until last night.
The polls got it dead wrong. This Trump victory was not a narrow win. It was decisive. How was that not heard or seen or recognized? Am I to believe that there weren’t even rumblings of what was going to happen? That this was impossible to predict?
I don’t believe that. I believe you stopped doing your jobs. I believe you got so mesmerized by your own reflection, you refused to recognize that you weren’t the only ones in the room. Febreze coined the term, “nose blind” and I think it’s a perfect description of what happened to the media.
It needs to change.
Journalists need to do better. I hope that as the whirlwind of excitement and disbelief over the results of this election dissipates, the media take a long hard look at themselves. I hope they rightly criticize and evaluate where they went wrong.
Take a look in the mirror and see how badly you have served our country.
Start reporting what you see and hear. Listen to everyone, not just the people who look like you or think like you. Stop trying to influence people’s opinions and instead, start informing the American people so that they can form their own opinions.
Whether you voted for Trump or for Clinton, please be outraged. From the primary elections to November 8 this media has failed you. You were either told you were in the clear majority, and you weren’t; or you were in the inferior minority and you weren’t. How can we begin to come together and understand each other if the media is refuses to represent us equally.
We need to listen to each other better.
The media needs to help us do that.
This is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue.
This is an American issue.