The Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

November 1, 2016 / Abhi Saravanan

Nowadays, the media is very pervasive in our everyday lives. They influence what we buy, what we eat, what we wear, and even what we think. Essentially, if you take a moment to step back and think about it they control our very lives and I believe that this control is very dangerous for us and our future. I was just recently reading an article about why some media networks choose to cover certain events or people over other things and one of the main reasons is to generate more viewership and increase revenue. Our society has gone so downhill that the press, whose original job was to report the news and the facts now cover garbage because they make more money that way.

One of the recent examples of this phenomenon is the media’s coverage of the 2016 presidential election. The media has spent a lot of time covering the outsider in this election: Donald Trump. In fact, when a CNN executive was interviewed on why the network spends so much time covering Trump and not the other candidates is because he generates more revenue and viewership for them. Since when did our society become so selfish and materialistic, that now the press, whose original job was to discover the truth and spread it, now do things simply because it pays better. Even when they do cover Trump, there’s nothing really useful that he says. They mostly cover his insults to about the other candidates or other big political figures. You never once will hear the media mention how Donald Trump made a good foreign policy speech. You will not hear this because it doesn’t generate any revenue for any of these networks. The same thing applies to Hillary. Most of the time when she’s on CNN it’s because something new was discovered about her emails. Even when Hillary Clinton gave a foreign policy speech the media mostly focused on how she criticized and attacked Trump, instead of the actual policies that she was trying to convey. Through this coverage, the media detracts away from the issues that are crucial to millions of Americans. Instead of debating how big someone’s hands are we should be having debates about the policies and the issues at hand. Because that is the way that we help our country move forward and help the millions of Americans who are living in poverty and are marginalized by society. Instead of promoting a fruitful discussion, the media is promoting a shitshow and is not fulfilling its true purpose of spreading the truth and knowledge to the people. In fact Jeremy Scahill, an investigative journalist and war correspondent describes it as a boxing match instead of being what is supposed to be: a meeting place of ideas.

Instead of promoting a fruitful discussion, the media is promoting a shitshow and is not fulfilling its true purpose of spreading the truth and knowledge to the people.

Another problem with the current media is in the way they present science and scientific research. They try to simplify and glorify science to try to market it and make it interesting for the ordinary American listener, however in the process they seriously fudge the facts and don’t do enough research on what they are reporting. They simply want to create bold headlines to catch people’s attention. For example you may see headlines about how chocolate cures cancer. However, if you go back to the original study that the media looked at nowhere will it actually say that chocolate cures cancer. It probably says something like some chocolate-like compound had some effect on reducing the number of cancer cells in a species of rat. That is a very different conclusion than that which the media makes. They make broad, sweeping conclusions that the scientific community hasn’t even confirmed yet. And this is the root problem with the media is that they are just too focused on getting viewers and don’t care if they actually report the truth. They are fine with making these sweeping generalizations without actually explaining the science behind it and they don’t even check whether its true or not. This is another problem with the media. They are just too lazy to actually dig deep into the story and uncover the real and whole truth. What happened to the good old days of investigative reporting? It’s all gone down the drain. Now people just want a juicy headline and something that makes them feel like they are doing the right thing. If anybody has any questions why the US does so poorly in STEM fields all they have to do is take a look at the mainstream media. They present science like something that you can use to cure cancer all at once. They make science sound so simple and so easy. But it’s not and maybe that’s why we lag behind other countries in science. It’s because Americans are not persistent enough and want these huge conclusions such as chocolate cures cancer and when science can’t do that they disregard it and move on. We need to change this mindset that is ingrained into American society and that means we need to fix how the media portrays the sciences.

To conclude, the media has diverged from its intended purpose of being the purveyors of truth and knowledge they now promote whatever gives them the best ratings and generates the most revenues. By choosing what stories to cover they are able to influence the way we think and how we as a society function. They are able to spread lies that people take as fact and which they then use because they believe in the power of the media. However, the media doesn’t care about helping the everyday watcher learn. Nowadays, they don’t even care about the truth but simply about the flashy headlines. We need to move society away from this fixation on flashy and shiny things. Since the beginning of time man has always been drawn by shiny objects but now this is causing the degradation of our society. The media which is ever prevalent in our everyday is leading us down this destructive and dangerous path and this needs to be fixed if we want to make progress and not regress.

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