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The Decline of Journalistic Integrity - A Youth's Perspective

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Scrolling through my daily news feed on the bus, I read articles about politics, science, art, and culture. It is a way for me to inform myself about prominent events that might affect me, it gives me a personal stake in our country and a sense of involvement. I imagine that it does the same for many other people.

Journalism is fundamental in all of our lives: there are reports on current events, events that affect all of us, whether it is on a global or local scale. Since we rely on the media to tell us about the state of affairs in our government, communities, and even our schools, the media should be held accountable for the quality of this information.

As I read the news, I noticed a pattern in the way certain news stories are conveyed. While this differs from platform to platform, there is an omnipresent bias in some stories, especially in news where politics are concerned. There are platforms that are clearly conservative-leaning and there are some that are obviously more liberal; however, when it comes to objective news, there should be as little bias as possible. Now I am not saying that it is feasible to eliminate all sources of bias because humans can never be totally free of bias and opinion, but I am saying it is necessary to control the amount of conscious bias that is put into articles and ensure they are cross-checked by editors, publishers, and colleagues. The bottom line is: bias should stay out of non-opinion-based articles.

The result of increased bias in our media coverage is a largely polarized political landscape. So polarized in fact that our government is becoming ineffective in combating problems prevalent in our society. So polarized that it has given rise to widespread bigotry and fanaticism. The media, if it adopts a new standard for journalistic integrity, could help bridge the gap between the two opposing forces. Our increased polarization is actually detrimental to our future, and the ideals of America.

According to a study done by Pew Research Center about the unfair coverage of the media, 79% of Americans believe that media coverage leans unfairly to one side. While more Republicans or right-leaning individuals say this, there is an element of truth. In reality, media coverage leans too much to both sides; there is apparent right-wing partiality in media, and although it is more obscure, left-wing partiality exists too.

There is nothing wrong with expressing your opinion through articles, that is why there are opinion-based journalism pieces like Op-eds, but there is an inherent flaw in using media bias to push a political, legal, or religious agenda. In the same study done by Pew, 66% of the people surveyed said the most common reason for media bias is political views or an agenda. Others say common reasons for unfair coverage are financial interests (20%), poor journalistic practices (8%),

or insufficient time and resources (6%). At any rate, all demonstrate a decline in journalistic integrity and ethical media coverage. The purpose of the media is to educate the public, not tell them what to believe or what opinions to form.

It is up to us, the next generation of journalists, politicians, reporters, publishers, editors, and most of all regular citizens to make sure we all uphold practices of integrity, ethicality, and honor in our production and consumption of media.

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