Everyday in real life, on social media and even in the media itself, I hear constant complaint about the media and journalists. The complaints come in a few different forms.
The first complaint is that all journalists are liars and the news is all bull. We can’t believe a word of it. The interesting thing about that point of view is that you ask those people about other issues and they will report facts and opinions back to you that they have learned from certain news sources over others and those news sources must be true. Despite the fact that they also believe all journalists are liars and all the news is bull.
The second complaint is my personal favourite. The news and journalists are biased. Now when it comes to newspaper media, this can be the case. For example The Telegraph, The Sun and The Daily Mail are all right-wing news papers, whilst The Guardian, The Independent and The Mirror are all left-wing. However the BBC is constantly attacked for being biased. It is attacked by the right-wing newspapers for having a liberal bias in its news reporting. It is attacked by the left-wing for being easy and soft and pushing the Conservative line. The interesting fact is that if you listen to anyone who studies journalism, is it reported that the BBC is not only for the most part objective in its reporting, it also has some of the best reporting. But don’t tell the Twitter fans that, would hate to point out to them that others do not share their all encompassing opinions.
The third complaint out of so many is that the media is part of the establishment and covers things up and refuses to want change and will attack anyone who tries to change things etc etc. Now this is a very popular view… except those who spout it appear to forget a few rather important works of journalism in recent years, let alone in decades past. I mean we could talk about the Expenses Scandal reported by The Telegraph. Or maybe even the Panama Paper (biggest leak in history). Lets not forget The Guardian reporting on Edward Snowden and also the Wikileaks story into the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And then if we cross the pond to America, you have the biggest scandal in the Catholic Church’s modern history reported by the Boston Globe.
If you believe any of the accusations above, you must watch Spotlight. This film will show you the very best in journalism. It does demonstrate many of the challenges newspapers and journalists have to face in entrenched communities such as the Catholic community in Boston. But these journalists, who made up the Spotlight team, worked diligently to uncover the rape and torture of children by Catholic priests and then uncovered the systematic cover up by the institution of the Church itself that is still being done today with more and more victims coming forward.
From my point of the view, the attacks on journalists by the right and the left wing, whether it be politicians, columnists, public speakers etc, is an attempt to discredit them. A few years ago, journalism in the UK took a rightfully massive hit with the revelations about the phone hacking scandal. Interesting point to note however is that this scandal wasn’t brought to light by the police or politicians. No, a journalists from The Guardian broke the story. This led to a massive inquiry into phone hacking and other activities, mainly tabloid journalists get up to. By discrediting journalism, there was a massive public and political outcry for press regulation.
This meant that through the discrediting of journalists and the press, the government was allowed to place regulations and control on the press with big public support. However, that is itself a rather dangerous thought, because if that path is continued down on, then soon you may not have a free press.
But then again, we spent most of our time caring more about who Justin Bieber is having sex with over genuine issues anyway.
For me personally, if you are going to complain about the press and journalists, then at least have some knowledge about how they work and how newspapers and broadcasters are run. Spotlight is one of many fantastic films that will demonstrate to you exactly what they do. The Newsroom is another great TV that also demonstrates the fact that Journalism is about the truth.