Major news programs like CNN have the majority of control when it comes to reporting news to the American public. Millions of people tune in every day to networks such as FOX News, CNN, C-SPAN and MSNBC in order to understand what is going on nationally and globally.
However, some of these networks have been under scrutiny because they are accused of pushing their own political agenda by altering stories to favor a specific party.
For example, Fox News has denied pushing a republican agenda, while MSNBC has denied pushing a democratic agenda.
Most recently, CNN’s ethics have been questioned by a former Emmy-award winning reporter, and the accusations are much more severe.
In 2011, Emmy-award winning reporter Amber Lyon was fired for continuing to report on a segment regarding the Arab Spring in Bahrain. She documented lethal force used by regime forces against unarmed protestors. She claims that government forces pressured her into withholding the footage, and that CNN is being paid by government officials to report “false news.” Lyon has since created her own website, amberlyonlive.com, in order to expose the lies of media outlets around the United States.
If these accusations are indeed true, can Americans trust any news being reported on major networks nowadays? Do we have to take every story with a grain of salt? If CNN is in bed with government officials, other major networks have to be as well. It does not make sense that the government would only pay off CNN while other major networks exist.
Journalism is supposed to report the truth. There is a famous quote on journalism attributed to English writer George Orwell. In an interview with Alex Jones, Lyon reminded the American public of this quote. She repeated, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want to be printed. Everything else is public relations.” Lyon was only doing her job as a journalist, and yet was punished by supposedly “The Most Trusted Name in News.”
If people begin to accept misinformation as fact, it becomes dangerous. Misinformation becomes propaganda, and influences people to act upon their misinterpretation of the truth. Journalism is supposed to report when unsavory events occur so citizens can react rationally.
In the case of Lyon, according to Examiner.com, citizens of Bahrain were thankful for Lyon’s truthfulness. Lyon posted her documentary that was removed by CNN on YouTube because she felt the need to broadcast the truth of the protests in Bahrain, and the citizens felt her work may influence justified intervention.
Journalism can be an incredibly effective way to promote change. Misinformation can create change, but that change is for the worst. Big news programs need to follow basic journalism ethics and report news stories to the public that are truthful. We base our opinions off these stories, and opinions should be based on fact.
Next time you turn on the news, be careful what you accept as factual information. Know if your sources are forcing an agenda, and recognize this before forming an opinion. The media has a lot of influence on a person’s psyche, and the media is embracing every opportunity to influence others into believing its nonsense.
Chris Chipman is a junior english major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to email@example.com.