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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.

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2012 Presidential Election!

8 Nov

Tuesday was Election Day in America! The president, Barack Obama, was running for re-election against the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney beat out a number of other viable candidates to represent the Republican Party, like former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Texas governor Rick Perry, Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann, and Herman Cain.

I supported Barack Obama from the beginning, and when it was announced that Mitt Romney would be his opponent, I was confident that President Obama would have no problem defeating him. However, as Election Day grew closer and more polls of registered voters appeared, I grew nervous that it might not be as easy as I thought it would be.

On Election Day, I was working on an assignment for The Miami Planet, an online environmental publication produced by students and faculty at the University of Miami. For my assignment, I went to the polls and interviewed people waiting in line about their views on the issues this election, and possibly who they were voting for. I interviewed people at the Bank United Center (BUC), which is where most UM students were assigned to vote. The story I wrote is meant to be a vignette, or just a glimpse into some people’s lives that happened to be waiting in line. My story can be found here!

In addition to writing, I also took pictures at the BUC, and at a watch party I attended, hosted by United Black Students, of which I am the historian. Here are some of the photos I took on Election Day:

Courtney Grant, a potential voter, eats a slice of pizza and peruses a potential ballot handed to him by a poll volunteer, as he passes the time while he waits to vote on Election Day.

Stephanie Rivas, a 26 year old volunteer for Get Out and Vote, volunteers on Election Day at the Bank United Center and makes cups of popcorn for those waiting in line.

Members of the UM College Republicans and Democrats organizations set up tables outside of the Bank United Center on the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables, Florida, on Election Day.

On Election Night, CNN announces that President Barack Obama will be re-elected to a second term.

Members of the UM club United Black Students react to the news that President Obama will be serving a second term.

On Election Night, Jasmin Phillips expresses her disdain for the Republican Party candidate, Mitt Romney, with a blunt t-shirt.

I hope you enjoyed those photos!!

On an unrelated note, I took some photos at the University of Miami Spin-A-Thon that took place on Saturday November 3, at the Herbert Wellness Center at the University of Miami. Participants rode exercise bikes to raise money for UM’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. This spin-a-thon was smaller version of the Dolphin Cycling Challenge, a fundraising effort that takes place throughout Miami-Dade County, and participants ride real bicycles over two days and finish at Sun Life Stadium. Some of my pictures were published for Distraction Magazine, a publication at the University of Miami, and is a magazine published by students for students. My featured photos can be found here.