Have you ever wondered who creates your news and how? Have you ever wondered how many people they contacted before they can confirm the validity of a source? Have you ever wondered what version of the story you’re being told when your eyes bounce across the sentences written by CNN, NBC, or Fox? If it has, then the media outlets have not done the jobs they’ve set out to do. While we believe that media bias only occurs in countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, and North Korea, the media on our very own monitors are busy fooling us.
Imagine a world where we’ve succumbed to headline only news. Imagine a world where we regurgitate a story and a one-liner moment after we hear it; defending it with every fiber of our moral being. Imagine swearing by a belief only because it’s popular or only because it isn’t; and not being able to formulate any novel ideas of our own due to a severe lack of understanding the topic. Unfortunately, you don’t have to imagine any further.
As the age of information grows more rapidly than we can comprehend, the sensationalist studded media grabs and holds our attention with stories they call news. We obsess over superfluous celebrities with superfluous friends and superfluous dialogues. We buy into mass covered gossip of feuds between music producers and feed the fire with memes that drown out the internet. Meanwhile, we ignore political unrest in countries all around the world. We ignore mass genocides rooted in racism, religious feuds, and greed. We ignore corruption that buys political parties, companies, votes, and people.
We choose not to think about these things because it’s easier that way. It’s easier to ignore the fact that everything you think was paid for by one of six companies and people that control 90% of the media we read and see. It’s easier to think that your thoughts are inherently your own and not manipulated by someone else. It’s easier to think that you’re okay with the status quo and you don’t need to explore the rest of the news realm. It’s easier because they’ve made it easier, and that’s the point.
And while it’s objectively justifiable in these fast-paced times to devote another 20-30 min a day to double check the authenticity of a news article; consider asking yourself, “at what cost?”
In the Newsroom, creator Aaron Sorkin does a tremendous job of highlighting all that is wrong with our media. Lead anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) aims to fork off from the status quo and plunge into journalism that is critical, transparent, and informative. He aims to enlighten the constituents of news they need to know about when entering a voting booth beyond candidates’ names. When you peel off the layer of fat that the media lays down day in and day out, you’d be surprised at what the world has to offer and how much you can be a part of the change. Unfortunately, as the show points out, the real news doesn’t generate ratings. Juxtaposed frequently with other news stations that feed off of popular and sexy news, McAvoy and the Network’s President Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), are in a constant uphill battle with their overseeing Media Executives; whom usually prefer profits over authenticity. However, the team of producers and writers at ACN (Atlantis Cable News) are blindly committed to bringing in commentary from both sides of the aisle; ergo creating a narrative that is informative enough to let the viewer decide for themselves, the most genuine version of the story. McAvoy, previously a prosecutor out of law school, transforms the newsroom into his courtroom; throwing arduous lines of questioning at members participating on the show that imitates an attorney cross-examining his witness. The Newsroom makes it clear that while doing the news well isn’t an easy task, it’s necessary in order to change the circumstances in this country. In their first episode, Charlie Skinner utters the phrase that leads to the very title of the first episode “We Decided To.”
Charlie: “You know what kiddo? In the old days of about 10 minutes ago, we did the news well. You know how? We just decided to.”
I am a firm believer in the statement that “if you’re not a part of the solution, then you’re a part of the problem.” Don’t be a part of the problem. Check the bias of your media. Read the back story. Discover what lies behind and beneath your beliefs and maybe even change your beliefs. Dare to question what the status quo has become and why. Can you afford to be part of the rat race? Or will you become an active member in shaping your own world with your own thoughts, your own ideas, and your own agenda?