Hate the incident, not the profession

Trust in journalism and mainstream media is at an all-time low according to data from Edelman’s annual trust barometer. With major events like the Jan. 6 riots at the capitol back in the news during the current legislative investigation and the storm misinformation that made the riot possible, it’s not hard to see why 59% of Americans agree that “most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.”
Incidents of sexual harassment and assault are also not uncommon when it comes to news-related professions. Just recently, fan-favorite CNN reporter Chris Cuomo was suspended due to his involvement in the defense of his brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, against an onslaught of sexual harassment allegations. However, what led to his eventual firing was when CNN found out that the reporter’s efforts to help his brother had breached his contract and that women had come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against him, not just his brother. A series of verified sexual assault claims, in addition to a repeated history of misinformation seem like reasonable grounds to distrust and even hate the media, but should people really take this hate and anger out on journalism and news reporting as a whole, or just the people who contaminate these professions?

While it’s pretty easy to only focus on the negatives, especially when it comes to news, some networks have seen controversy as the perfect opportunity to deliver the facts to their viewers.”

There are many people who will point to the argument that at this moment journalism and news reporting are in pretty bad shape. Misinformation about fraudulent elections was spread by multiple conservative TV channels such as Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News Network, not just specific individuals. But it’s not just conservative news sources that have come under fire. Forbes reported that from February 2021, only a few weeks after the capital riots, to August 2021, several liberal news stations such as CNN and MSNBC saw a decline in the trust of their viewers. The data provided didn’t specify if this loss of trust was due to specific reporters or distrust of the television channels as a whole, but based on the fact that this decline has lasted several months, one can assume this distrust was a result of more than frustration with specific reporters. Unfortunately, data past August of 2021 was not included, so there isn’t a way of telling if these numbers continued or if viewers of these networks regained their trust.
American citizens are finding it increasingly hard to tell the difference between real facts and commentary on current events. And with more people turning to digital forms of media to get their information, they are also being bombarded with fake information, ads, and clickbait used to monetize digital news intake. Curated news feeds also keep users from accessing information from a variety of sources that might contain conflicting information. The combination of all of these factors makes it easy to see how citizens can get caught up in misinformation or polarized opinions. This is another reason why people have been getting frustrated with the media and the journalists they see every day on the news or read in publications. When people see information that they don’t agree with or that doesn’t match the “facts” that they’ve read about, then they tend to label the journalists delivering this information as liars or perpetrators of fake news.
While it’s pretty easy to only focus on the negatives, especially when it comes to news, some networks have seen controversy as the perfect opportunity to deliver the facts to their viewers. Just recently, the network included a segment that discussed in detail the timeline of Chris Cuomo’s departure and the reasoning behind it. Publicly discussing the suspension and firing of one of their own employees is a bold move, especially when it includes allegations of sexual harassment, however, CNN saw this as an opportunity to reflect on how the event would impact the future of the company and also share with viewers how the situation was being handled. Fox News tried to do the same on Jan. 6, opting to air segments debunking election fraud claims following the insurrection at the capitol. Many of these claims had been made by some of their own reporters, yet Fox still aired the segment because of the far-reaching damage of these claims.
Both of these examples show that it isn’t journalism or mainstream media as a whole that should be criticized and torn apart by viewers. News stations are very much capable of relaying the facts and being transparent. So while criticism is needed to keep journalists and networks in check, controversies that occur both inside and outside of news companies shouldn’t motivate people to criticize the profession, or even the media, as a whole. Instead, people should save their strong feelings for the people that corrupt the profession, as it is these people, not the institution of journalism as a whole, that allow controversy to persist.