Journalists as Government’s Check & Balance

16 Nov

“Journalism is the only profession explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, because journalists are supposed to be the check and balance on government. We’re supposed to be holding those in power accountable. We’re not supposed to be their megaphone. That’s what the corporate media have become.” –Amy Goodman

I found that quote on Tumblr, and it really stood out to me and made me think about the role of journalists and the press in the current era. In my history of journalism class, I am basically studying what the role of the press is and how that role has evolved from the establishment of our nation to today. Is the press supposed to report the truth? The entire truth? Is it supposed to keep up public morale, if that means omitting some information? All of this is taken into account when deciding what to publish.

This quote exemplifies what the press would be if it were perfect, but it is far from perfect, and everyone knows that. News is supposed to be an objective, reliable source of information, but with scandals that have plagued our government for years, we know that this is not true. The first amendment protects journalists from governmental consequences if they portray the government in a negative light, but the first amendment also allows the press to publish essentially whatever it wants, as long as it is true. This includes telling lies of omission, and withholding information from the public.

I have recently become disgusted with the lack of attention the media has given towards the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the media’s infatuation with the David Petraeus scandal. Some people may argue that the Israel-Palestine conflict is not as big a deal as the Petraeus scandal because one is domestic and one is international, but I have seen absolutely no coverage of the IP conflict without having to search for it, while the Petraeus scandal is shoved in my face every single day.

Can the media be held accountable for this? I think so. Will the media be held accountable for this? I don’t think so. America has an infatuation with itself, and everything else is put on the back burner. The most news I’ve heard about the conflict is from Facebook friends, on both sides of the issue, making posts about it.

This topic obviously has a lot of layers, and I’ve only just scratched the surface on a few of them, but I said all of that to say this:

As journalists, it is our job to hold the government accountable, but I think as citizens, it is our job to hold to press accountable and demand that they report the truth and the entire truth.


One Response to “Journalists as Government’s Check & Balance”

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