Friday, June 22, 2007

The Problem With The Media

First, we have NBC allegedly paying Paris Hilton $1.3 million for an interview about her life behind bars. Then we have the BBC releasing a report on its self, quoting a former BBC political editor as saying that the British news organization does have a “liberal bias.”

And that’s just recently. For a long time now, most people are aware of media bias, with many taking shots at newspapers like The New York Times as having a left-wing agenda, while others blast FOX News for being a right-wing mouth piece for the Republican Party.

But if people, especially journalists, have forgotten one of the responsibilities of the news, let me remind you all: The news shouldn’t be bias at all. Yes, there is intentional bias in the media. Newspapers and news programs will intentionally slant a story. Not all the time or every topic but it does happen.

Reporters seem to forget that editorializing and omitting certain facts to fit their views are what columnists are allowed to do. Reporters should only be allowed to present both sides of the issue and let the reader/viewer decide.

And we’ll get to see this bias even more as the election gains more steam.

But sometimes news organizations are unfairly criticized by readers and viewers, which I personally experienced, while I was an editor for a newspaper. A week or two before voters decided who would be president in the 2004 elections; I started creating my editorial that basically stated that as Americans, we all needed to come together because the election created a huge divide in the nation.

Well, I couldn’t run the editorial until I knew who won the election. Once I knew who won, I placed in George Bush’s and John Kerry’s correct titles and published it. I had two readers who called me up: one accusing me of being in favor of Bush and the other accusing me of siding with Kerry. I couldn’t help but laugh.

By that time, I was used to readers calling me up or sending me hate mail, accusing me of either having a conservative or liberal agenda because I decided to print a supporter’s letter. The truth was I printed all types of letters that either praised or slammed the candidates. Needless to say, I never had a shortage of material to fill the op-ed pages during the last few months of the elections.

But getting back to intentional media bias, this has to end. NBC is accused of paying Hilton for that interview. Personally, I don’t care about media stories about celebrities. As far as I’m concern, Pop Media reporting a break up of a Hollywood couple or jail time for a spoiled hotel heiress isn’t real journalism. I wouldn’t line a bird cage with trash like that.

However, if the allegations are true, who is to say that NBC isn’t going to pay Hillary Clinton in some way for an exclusive interview? And if the BBC’s own staff is admitting bias, than there is a possibility that other networks are doing the same thing.

Back room deals and slanting the news, either with a liberal or conservative view, ultimately hurts a news organization's credibility. And that may explain the popular increase of media blogs. It’s high time that the media starts practicing the ideals of journalism and stop forcing its views on the people.