News is not a narrative


Illustration by Yasmin Haq

The Amazon forest burning, Kashmir under siege, the Rohingya genocide and Sudan. There’s so much happening in the world — so much to be covered and so much to be educated on. The world is on fire, yet the headlines of our mainstream news channels appear void of meaningful information. 

Switching on CNN, I’m disappointed to find Trump’s name plastered everywhere, with extensive coverage on his heinous tweets and offensive ramblings. “Breaking news” lights up the screen, and I cringe at the rhetoric of it all. 

Why provide extensive coverage of something (or someone, rather) that seems so small in the grand scheme of things? CNN and other mainstream liberal news sources use Trump, his administration and their strained relationship with the Republican Party as a tool to keep their audience engaged, and vice versa with conservative channels. They use drama and flare to incense their audience – to keep them hooked so they can get their paychecks.

But that’s not what journalism is about. It’s not about serving yourself for monetary gain or entertaining the masses, it’s about sharing what needs to be heard. 

Mainstream media has a bad rap, but some of that backlash is warranted. It’s strange that I find out much of what’s going on in the world through influencers on social media who are outraged at a “lack of media coverage.” Only after an issue has been brought to widespread attention through social media do I see mainstream media channels take action. It should be the other way around with the public reacting to mainstream channels. 

What does make it on media channels is only covered for as long as mainstream media wants to keep it in the public eye before dropping right back into the cycle of politics. I understand the concept of timeliness, but issues do not just happen and then go away. Gun violence does not go away. Neither does climate change. But coverage does. There are so many stories to tell, but CNN and Fox like to stick to a single narrative. 

The problem is not just what popular liberal and conservative media covers, but also how they cover it. Stories drip with loaded language, shedding light on their political agenda. While inevitable, bias should be limited as much as possible. Unless explicitly stated as opinion, journalism should take an impartial stance, allowing the public to make its own conclusions based on facts. The juxtaposition between the ethical code taught to student journalists and what is seen nationally is confusing and disappointing. Enforcing an agenda is not journalism. 

The consequences of these issues have already shown themselves. Liberals and conservatives refuse to part with their channels of choice, feeding into the disconnect between both parties. Strong bias also leads to the possibility of misinformation and a lack of fact-checking, which I have seen in some of CNN’s articles. These issues have also warranted disillusionment from some of the public, such as myself. I want to have faith in the headlines that flash across my screen, and to trust I will truly be informed, but that is not the case right now. 

I am not saying mainstream media is completely unreliable, but I am saying there are some major problems with it. There is a lot that can and should change regarding the current practices of major news sources and the ethical standards that should be met. And because of these practices, I implore others to do further research – with reliable sources- for themselves and recognize the rhetoric being presented.