The Role of the Free Press and Why We Need It

The Role of the Free Press and Why We Need It

There has been a lot of talk about the roles “the media” played during this election season. Some have stated that the press was biased and tried to sway voters a certain way, and some stated the media portrayed our new president-elect unfavorably.

Any way you boil it down, the public wanted someone to blame during the chaos that was the presidential election. The media always seems to be the first to receive that backlash.

Everything seemed to be the media’s fault and I’ve heard a lot of people saying that the media wasn’t fair and should be “held accountable.”

Let’s get this straight; the media has not, and will never be, fair because “being fair” is subjective. The media’s job is to be objective and give facts, and even though some people may not like those facts and think it is unfair to make those facts open for the public to see, it has to be done.

True, some do their best to be objective, while others do not; that is how you separate legitimate news sites from fake ones.

“American media has always been biased. It’s always been slanted… it has always reflected different views— all different voices, many different publications, many different stations, have always had some kind of slant. That’s what the first amendment is all about,” said Dr. Terry Clark, University of Central Oklahoma professor and Director of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.

While some news outlets do their best to be objective, they seem to also lean a certain way, because we’re all human. But by reporting facts, does that make them biased?

“… In the last election, for instance, if you happened to disagree with something, you said it was biased. That’s not fair. People have a misunderstanding of what bias is to start with, and I think there is a lot of biased media in the world, especially on social media,” Clark said.

It wasn’t just perceived bias that seemed to make the public angry though. There was a rise in websites that claimed to be legitimate news sources, and some people fell for the false facts these sites propagated.

“There has been a lot brought out recently, a lot of fake news sources, and people take it and don’t check their sources and immediately respond to it, or react to it, or forward it without even thinking about it,” Clark said.

Though we’re feeling divided as a country now, the press is still doing what it has always done: report to the public and represent them as a whole. While some may disagree with that, they are free to do so, because the fact still remains that there are news stations and sites out there that are trying to do their best to report the news objectively.

It’s important for the public to know that the press is going back and analyzing what was reported incorrectly this election and how it could have been executed better. The public also needs to realize that they need to be skeptical of all news until they’ve checked multiple sources the back up their facts.

“Everybody ought to check more than one source. Any American who just relies on only one source of news is woefully ignorant and blind,” Clark said.

Photo: The media has come under quite a bit of heat since the election regarding false news that has been circulating through social media. News is often read because it is free, not necessarily because it is true. This leads to uneducated decision making and misinformation. Photo by Ryan Naeve, The Vista.

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