Forget ratings or retweets: Media organizations must report news


Adam Kovel, Editor-in-Chief

Media outlets nationwide wrongly attempt to sway viewers’ opinions on current events instead of simply doing their jobs—telling the news.

National news organizations swarmed to cover police brutality, rioting, mass shootings, gay marriage legalization, and crises regarding the Confederate flag in the past month, and rightly so. The public deserves knowledge regarding real current events, but some of these moments are covered with a fear of upsetting certain demographics, resulting in lazy journalism and inaccurate, unjust, and upsetting reporting.

Sunday marked the one year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. Having trouble remembering which traumatic murder case his was? He was the unarmed black teenager murdered by a police officer. Does this ring a bell, or has the epidemic of police brutality and racism caused us to forget each sacred life taken away due to the massive numbers of fatalities?

Names such as Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton, Dante Parker, Tamir Rice and Walter Scott (along with others) all died in similar fashions: a police officer murdering them while unarmed.

Police brutality remains a building issue, but media outlets focused more on the rioting following deaths than the necessary conversation on why black lives matter. Instead, these wronged people are called “thugs” for protesting the fact that a racist and a murderer joins George Zimmerman (among others) walking free and facing no consequence. During the riots for Freddie Gray’s death, FOX News held a debate on whether or not it remains appropriate to name the protesters “thugs.” When a guest speaker denied the notion, Megyn Kelly interrupted him by saying she believes they are in fact “thugs.” Watch the frustrating video on FOX’s website here.

Dylann Roof, the infamous Charleston black church shooter, provided overwhelming evidence that his crime was based on racism. He remains on record telling authorities he wanted to “start a race war,” but there are articles written like this one from the New York Times in which he becomes humanized, and despite clear proof that shows his prejudice, people are dumbfounded at the idea that maybe Roof stands as simply a bad person.

Roof, like anyone inclined to partake in such a heinous act, proves a messed up individual, but divorced parents and changing schools does not create a monster. Reports saying he was “troubled” and befriended black people his age justify his heinous actions and minimize the murders he committed.

Mohammad Abdulazeez, the man who murdered four Marines in Chattanooga, received a different sentiment than Roof, despite their respective attacks occurring recently from each other. No excuses were made for Abdulazeez; instead, people instantly pointed fingers toward ISIS with little-to-no proof of the organization having anything to do with the attack. Abdulazeez became known as “one of the Islamic terrorists.”

I ask, why did one receive more excuses than the other? Perhaps a better question stands, why are people debating whether or not someone who murdered nine innocent churchgoers out of hate and spite stands as a horrible human being or not? Why is someone who kills four people called a “terrorist” and another who kills nine “troubled” simply based off ethnicities and religious preferences?” Both men are terrorists, but only one is called as such.

During the Republican Debate, an unnerving trend appeared: Donald Trump needed to partake in every discussion, for pure ratings benefits. Candidates were even asked specific questions regarding Trump instead of meaningful ones on how they plan to help the country. The debate featured several interesting moments in which those running excelled or stumbled, and it resulted in a better understanding of each of their stances and plans. However, few of these moments were shown in highlight reels from the evening. “Who do you think benefited the most from that debate?” “I am not sure, but that Rosie O’Donnell comment sure was funny.”

Biased reporting is a panel of whites discussing racial inequality. Narcissistic reporting says “all lives matter” when we need to focus on the black ones, as both recent and distant history blatantly prove that some lives stand more precious than others. Lazy reporting is criticizing a social movement trying to make a change rather than call out a court ruling for wrongfully letting a murderer walk. Unjust reporting is focusing on whatever blasphemy Donald Trump said instead of focusing on serious candidates in a presidential race in which it maintains difficult to separate those running.

The times of discussing people and situations biasedly and carelessly must end now. No longer shall the news brainwash the public with slander and excuses simply to incite a reaction or increase ratings. Social media platforms such as Twitter recently narrowed their attention to the media swaying opinions, but that does not prove enough. It is time to ethically and reasonably tell the news again, with no goal except to inform the public.