We need to learn to trust the news media


Kernel Opinions Sig

Hailey Peters

Stories matter.

Learning about the world around us does not end after our high school history classes. It is our right and responsibility as Americans to be informed, and journalists work tirelessly to connect people to the world around them. It is a profession that is so crucial to our democracy and preserving our freedoms.

But people are no longer accepting the news as good, reliable or even true. The term “fake news” was dubbed word of the year by The Collins Dictionary in 2017, and it goes to show that people just aren’t trusting reporters or genuine news sources anymore. “Alternative facts” and exaggerated, over-sensationalized stories have led too many people to believe that any information they hear about their world is incorrect, or does not tell the whole story, or is entirely the scheme of a political agenda.

The problem here is not that journalistic integrity has been lost (although to be fair, that can be argued in some situations); it is that people have the purpose of the media and of news flipped. We are supposed to listen to different sources of news and learn information from multiple outlets and in turn let that influence our opinions and social actions. Instead, we let our own opinions depict where we get our news from— the same one or two news channels or publications, our close friends and our family members, usually.

When we cherry-pick where we receive information, we open ourselves up to ignorance and biases. Some news sources are entirely influenced by political agenda, and some of their audience will not even care as long as the views match what they already know.

Being complacent in what we already know is a huge insult to the capacity of knowledge that we as humans have. Learning and adapting is a gift, and we too often take it for granted and like to assume that we always know everything we need to know about certain subjects or current events. As a society, each and every one of us need to be conscious of what is happening in our worlds, and that means getting our news from every place that we can. That means not ignoring certain outlets because their views are too “extreme.” Honest, unbiased, “real news” exists; people are just too apathetic to take the time to find it.

As a journalism student myself, it pains me to hear people saying that it’s a “dying field” or that “it’s all fake news these days.” Real, honest journalism is more prevalent in our world than you may think. Opening your mind to things you think are “fake” is way easier said than done, and most people probably do not think that they’re doing it, but they are. And it is genuinely harmful to our freedom.

When information doesn’t accurately reach the people and stays in the hands of the most powerful, democracy cannot exist. Freedom of the press is not the enemy of the people; it is the savior.