“I hate the media.” I’ve seen this statement posted on Facebook. I’ve heard it spouted on television. I’ve even heard someone say this on the radio. Am I the only one who sees the irony here? I wonder if people who make this statement know what the word media actually means.
Without the media, you’d have no way to effectively communicate your hatred for it. But maybe when you say you hate the media, you don’t mean social media where you control the content, or radio call-in shows where you can at least voice your opinion. You mean “the mainstream media,” because it doesn’t report what you want it to, or because it reports too much of something that you don’t find informative. And yet, you’re still consuming enough of it to form this opinion of hatred, which means, you are supporting the very thing you hate.
Rest assured, no one hates the media more than its members, at least from what I’ve seen. The two newspapers I wrote for were vastly different, but they had one thing in common: unhappy, cynical, frustrated people. In most cases (with the exception of maybe myself) these people really, truly, cared. They didn’t always have the time or space to report in the way they wanted. Or, in some cases, they were forced to report what competitors were reporting on, even if they thought there was a more deserved story not being told. In other cases, the opposite was true. I’ve seen reporters forced to avoid a story even though every other media outlet covered it. But they kept pushing and tried to make things better. Yes, I was a reporter, but I did not have the heart, dedication or stamina of the people I’m talking about.
I do understand the annoyance you feel when a TV reporter asks an inane question just to get a sound bite, or when you read something you know not to be accurate because of your personal connection to the story.
News reporters, just like talk show hosts, are forced to work on deadlines and produce something – whether they have the whole story or not. Space has to be filled. The show must go on. At least talk show hosts have the luxury of showing the occasional rerun.
I am not writing this to defend the telling of untruths. I am simply saying that the media is a human construct, subject to all the same human failings of any other industry.
With the multitude of media outlets today, it’s getting harder and harder to define what is “mainstream,” and in some ways, that’s a good thing. Years ago, if a newspaper published something you disagreed with, your only option was to write a letter to the editor, and if you were lucky that letter would get published, making you temporarily part of “the media.”
The great thing about technology now, is that you can write your own version of the story on Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, or your own personal website. Maybe these aren’t the big news outlets you’d prefer, but I think all these options have made people more savvy and more skeptical of traditional media than we used to be.
We are a society of consumers who demands the media, and now more than ever, we have the gratification of being a part of it – even if it’s only to say how much we hate it. These are exciting times.