“Boy, that’s a lot of media,” said Donald Trump at a recent rally in Minneapolis, looking to the press gallery. The crowd instantly erupted in a collective “boo” without another word being said. “They are so dishonest, and frankly, they are so bad for our country,” he continued.
I heard this live on Minnesota Public Radio driving home from Baldwin. All I could do was shake my head as my heart sank into my stomach. “These people are just doing their jobs,” I said aloud. “They don’t even care who they are with? All he said was “the media” and everyone boos them?”
I tried to imagine myself standing there among fellow reporters, writers, and photographers in an entire stadium of people collectively mocking us for the careers we decided to pursue. They didn’t care who those people were. They were now branded, “The Media” – something bad for the country, according to the President’s words.
Now, before you brand me, I would refer you back to my previous column in the December 18 edition. I am not a political person, nor do I care to be. I’m not a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Capitalist, Socialist, or any other political label you can stamp me with. I’m just a human being, and an editor in the newspaper industry. So, that being said, this column is about the current perception of “The Media.”
Mind you, I haven’t been a part of “The Media” for very long, but hearing a collective disdain belted out in real time toward a field that your career path falls into is disconcerting no matter how long you’ve been doing it. And, to brand all media as “bad for our country” is simply damaging to a free press, so it struck a nerve in me.
Luckily for us, news at the local level is among the most trusted despite the era of “Fake News.” That doesn’t mean the “Fake News” narrative doesn’t come down from the national level to haunt us. There is still a certain hesitance that comes with interviews – as if we’re ready to pounce on the first controversial topic brought up in conversation and run it with prejudice. This just simply isn’t the case (at least in good reporting).
My argument with the “Fake News” narrative is not that disinformation isn’t spread by news conglomerates with the highest profit margins. There is a desire to break a story as quickly as possible at that level. This causes facts to be overlooked, or a story to come out unfulfilled with essential details revealing themselves later. So, I do understand that there are times when the media misconstrues their stories. My argument is simply that disagreement does not equate to “Fake News.”
Most people that lean “left” will more than likely disagree with right-wing media. Most that lean “right” will disagree with left-wing media. Does this mean it’s all fake? Of course not. Are there instances where dishonesty prevails, and a story isn’t factual? Yes, of course. The necessity to differentiate between the two needs to be utilized more often rather than painting either side with the broad “Fake News” brush.
Blanket statements are harmful just about everywhere. You can’t call all members of a particular religion terrorists because of the minority of extremists that carry out heinous acts. All the same, you cannot simply call all of “The Media” dishonest and bad for the country. The media serves as much more than entertainment. We are the community “Watchdogs,” we are the microphone for citizens, and we do it all with a sense of responsibility to our communities as members of the free press.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and a Happy New Year.