Earlier at 7:30 in Chase Lounge tonight, I was pretty stoked to join in on a panel (presenting were: (Rex Rhoades, Executive Editor of the Lewiston Sun Journal; Thomas Fiedler, Dean of Boston University’s College of Communication and former Executive Editor of the Miami Herald; and Justin Ellis, a staff member at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University and former columnist/blogger, staff writer and multimedia producer for the Portland Press Herald) on the current state of journalism. No doubt, the media has been an essential component of shaping society, whether biased or unbiased- from the history of tools of newspaper printing to television and radio broadcasting, to the Internet.
The chief, lingering issue that hung somberly over our heads throughout the evening was: Has the news lost what it’s stood for? I thought about it in relation to my academic experiences: when I’m assigned to research something for class, I always find it highly disturbing that Wikipedia comes up first on the results in Google Search. Of course. no offense directed towards the creators of Wikipedia (as they are doing their job trying to provide the optimal references for accurate information), but since anyone is free to submit anything on the site, the line between fact and popular opinion becomes blurred (and ultimately, it comes down to: what really is fact and what is opinion)
It’s also no secret that the media is highly politicized (as a result, so is the nation). We may not realize it, but the news has a staggeringly subliminal impact on its viewers. It’s become not just simply information, but when the news tags its own commentaries on its stories (for example, news talk shows) it becomes its own product- fed to unsuspecting consumers, Republican or Democrat.
So how can we coexist in a democracy, where we are uncensored to express our own opinions, yet must keep them in check when delivering the news? I guess the only answer remains- as Jerry Seinfeld would put it, look to the black-and-white cookie.