Watching reports on the controversy that sprang up about President Barack Obama’s citizenship over the summer was an entirely different experience for Lonald Wishom II, depending on which cable news outlet he was tuned to.
“I see how different (news stations) are and I realize the truth is somewhere in the middle,” said Wishom, diversity vice president. “I thought it was important to kinda, like, shed light on this issue to students.”
Wishom led a panel of professors, journalists and the student body president through a discussion about practices of national media and the responsibility citizens have to consume news intelligently.
“The question I think is the most important to ask with the media is who is telling me this and what biases do they have,” Wishom said.
Shane Farver, a professor of journalism and faculty adviser for The Signpost, said the demand for immediate news is one factor compromising the quality and accuracy of reporting.
“People expect news immediately,” Farver said. “With that, accuracy is going to take some hits. There’s no way around it.”
With the journalism industry hurting for revenue, outlets feel more pressure to produce news that will sell, Farver added.
“The media could afford to give people what they needed and not what they wanted,” Farver said. “They’re trying to give people what they want, they’re trying to entertain, and that doesn’t always translate to what they need.”
Even so, the panelists frequently addressed an individual’s own responsibility when consuming news.
“The public has to pay attention, looking at all the sources,” said Charles Trentelman, a journalist at the Ogden Standard- Examiner.
Part of the blame for the deteriorating quality of reporting rests squarely on the shoulders of the public, said Leah Murray, a professor in the department of political science and philosophy.
“Where did we go wrong? We went wrong in what we choose to consume,” Murray said.
Farver addressed another development of modern-day media, the blurring of opinion and factual reporting. In the modern-day newspaper, those lines aren’t always clear, Farver said. This practice, he indicated, is not acceptable.
“It has to be couched as analysis,” Farver said of any kind of opinionated reporting.