Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Hardball Factor 360°: News Media is a Fickle Friend, but a Crucial Friend Indeed

    Much could be said about the American news media. Indeed, much has been said about the American news media. It isn’t exactly the most well-constructed or well-behaved behemoth these days, and things don’t look to be getting much better. However, if you can suspend any notion of bias on my own part, I’d like to take a moment to defend journalism not as an industry, but as a crucial political body.

    By now, many have likely heard about New York Representative Michael Grimm’s threat against a young reporter who ostensibly took a potshot at the congressman after he refused to answer a question about a campaign financing scandal after the President’s State of the Union Address.

    The relationship between governments and journalistic bodies can very quickly become contentious. Of course, each organization has its own goals and in the course of pursuing these conflicts can often arise. It is essential, however, that the ability of the press to remain free and protected to accomplish their function as the 4th estate of the American government be maintained.
    Last night’s State of the Union Address was disappointing for a number of reasons, largely because it didn’t seem to advance anything new or exciting or visionary. The President did seem to make one bold assertion of his intent to utilize the full extent of his executive powers to bypass an uncooperative legislature to at least accomplish some of his goals re: income equality.

    While I’m sure most in the country can understand the President’s frustration with a Congress that has essentially trapped the country in a stalemate for the last 5 years, we as the American citizenry must do whatever we can to fight for a balance of power within government. The country should not be solely governed by a group of white-haired egomaniacs, nor should it be governed by a group of out-of-touch lawyers, nor should it be governed solely by a monarchistic President.

    Over our nation’s history we’ve seen all of these extremes (in recent decades more the latter), but the solution to disappointment with one body should not be to defer total power to another. Rather, opening up the doors for a valid and thoughtful criticism of all parties is a sure way to build our way back to a more firm balance.

    Unfortunately, it appears largely as though both the legislature and the executive have taken it upon themselves to fight the freedom of the public to be informed at every step. The Government’s extreme and unfortunately underreported persecution of Edward Snowden (who has just been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize) for revealing sensitive information regarding the covert and extensive activities of the NSA paints an incredibly disturbing picture.

    While, certainly, there is room to criticize the media, the public must surely support them now more than ever. If you can wade through the muck and the bullsh** created by a disturbing and profit-oriented 24-hour cycle you’ll find that the news media is the last true chance we have at an objective bridge between the populace and our government. As the divide between the two seems to grow wider day-by-day and the media finds itself increasingly forced to play a PR role we come closer and closer to a nightmare scenario.

    Grimm’s example is an extreme one (and he did, albeit seemingly reluctantly) apologize for his threat, it only serves to illustrate what appears to be a growing trend: a media persecuted for being critical, incentivized strongly to serve the interests of the government and not the people, a media intentionally wrangled, mangled, manhandled, and twisted beyond recognition.

    Indeed, in my four years here we have even confronted this at The Spectator, but a media afraid to speak out for fear of repercussion (be it a toss off a balcony or a restriction of future access) is not a media being validly checked, but grossly muzzled.

    The Supreme Court does not need your defense. The Legistature does not need your protection. The President does not need your support. These institutions, anymore, hardly seem to serve the American people and only grow more and more powerful.
    Who does need your help and support and protection and defense? Reporters. At the end of the day, they are the only powerful voice the people still have – and whatever legitimate power that still exists there is quickly being chipped away.

    Our nation cannot function if our government and our citizens continue to run from information. Rather, we should chase after and embrace truth at every opportunity and when we catch it we need to hold on to it as tight as we can… it’s all we have left.

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    About the Contributor
    Dallas Goschie, Author

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