Media Warning: The danger of listening to yourself

mediaI’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’s despicable.

It’s malpractice.

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.

 

 

9 comments

  • laura

    Well said my friend!

  • Brenda Garver

    Well said Christine!

  • Well said Christine! When I was young and very impressionable the news did the very same thing. That was during the Viet Nam war era. The news portrayed our young soldiers as “baby killers” . They constantly shamed our soldiers. My friends were going off to war.
    When they returned, they were spit on by college students, who were avoiding the draft. Our honorable soldiers never spoke of their military service,. They were heroes who served their country. Most of them were only 19 years old. They left their friends and family , served proudly, and quickly learned that they must keep their mouth shut. As I write this my tears are slowly rolling down my face. It was only after our kids were in high school that they started to ask questions about their dads service. They were proud of their dad. There was healing. The news media is powerful. It is a responsibility. Today is Veterans Day. We celebrate our freedom thanks to those who serve our country. But sadly it took 20 years to acknowledge their service .

    • Christine

      Thank you for the history lesson mom. What you said is very powerful and I’m sad to realize that we, as a country, haven’t learned anything. When only one ideology has the microphone it’s a dangerous thing.

  • Carrie Austin

    AWESOME! Lynn read this to me last night and I asked her if you could TRY to get some newspapers to print it……ha ha, but- ya never know.

  • Sue j

    My brother served in Vietnam being there early building the infrastructure for the military. Their roads and buildings etc…. So not technically there for combat and he still NEVER takes about his time there. Media gives you much press to the NEGATIVE and is so driven by one side of society’s ideology’s.

  • My brother served in Vietnam being there early building the infrastructure for the military. Their roads and buildings etc…. So technically not there for combat and yet he still NEVER talks about his time there. Our media gives way too much press/attention to the NEGATIVE and is so driven by one side of society’s ideology. Now it’s even worse than for Vietnam because there is skewed media available 24/7. It bothered me how Clinton and her party talked about how despicable Trump’s behavior/words were all the time. Yet, I guess it’s okay when she chooses in her ads playing those scenes, words over and over again implying how the “kids are being scarred watching him”. Are those same kids scarred watching her video ads nit scarred aftr seeing them all day and night??????

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