When I decided to pursue journalism at the age of 16, people thought I was insane, due to the many negative stereotypes that surround the profession. At that time, I also didn’t have much understanding of the profession, and had limited awareness of concepts that I’d later be taught formally in college. I just knew that I wanted to be a journalist – whatever that meant. I never grasped how broad, limitless, and multidimensional that media actually is.
So, today, when I hear people villainize this industry and criticize the entirety of it, I oftentimes have to place myself in that same uninformed mindset I possessed before I studied journalism. I have to remind myself that a lot of us don’t quite understand what exactly this “enemy” that we refer to as media is or why it’s important to have a diverse intake of it.
American journalists over time have had one of the worst rankings for reliability in comparison to other careers year after year. For President Donald Trump, the press has even been referred to as “the enemy of the people”, as well as a wide and descriptive array of many other different insults throughout the years. And for some, the industry as a whole has been criticized for missing out on all of the facts even though a good portion of these critics regularly contribute to the media via social platforms.
Many of us struggle with this umbrella-term of what is and isn’t considered media. According to Cooper Koch of Huffpost, the media includes just about everything ranging from television, newspapers, magazines, social media, and more. So actually, your posts on social media are a method of taking part in this broad term that’s commonly thrown out.
And according to a study conducted by The Pew Research Center, one in five American adults said that they regularly consume their news from social media and online. In fact, the amount of Americans who prefer digital media has steadily increased since 2008 and has been one of the main locations for people to find information.
So when people make statements claiming that the media as a whole doesn’t talk about a certain issue, it’s nothing less than inaccurate and hypocritical considering how immense the industry is and that they too contribute towards it.
Twitter and other social networks are not the end-all-be-all or complete representation of the entire news media. This is especially true when you think about how social media even works. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram allow users to personally curate the information and news that they receive. Your timeline mainly includes the ideas of people who you choose to follow and who you likely agree with.
So just because the issue that you’re hoping to see represented isn’t showing up within the timeline that you’ve created, it doesn’t mean that someone somewhere isn’t covering it.
We can even see this with recent Black Lives Matter protest coverage as user @_pem_pem brought up. Many outlets beyond Twitter have consistently covered protests in the exact ways that people are claiming the media isn’t. For example, The Verge, a technology publication, highlighted peaceful protestors and criticized police officers for being violent their coverage.
However, some users on Twitter said the opposite and that the media as a whole framed protestors as unruly and out of control. While it’s true that certain mainstream publications may have done so and documented their singular experience at a protest, there were plenty of other outlets that provoked thoughtful conversations about the topic too.
This is why it’s important to diversify your media diet. Someone somewhere is leading a nuanced debate on the things that you’re concerned about. You just have to look for them.
It’s also important to get caught up on the topics that you aren’t as interested in, or are even opposed to, in order to get a firm grasp on the world around you. Steffan Surdeck of Forbes.com even says that those who expose themselves to different perspectives are overall better leaders in life and more successful over time. By doing so, you’re also able to think critically and understand how to problem-solve in the ever-changing world that we live in.
Searching for diverse media outlets doesn’t have to be intimidating either. There are countless different indie publications – both online and offline – that are likely covering the exact topics you’re looking for, as well as a wide array of other insightful perspectives too.
Not to mention, your local news organization covers much more than you might think they do. In fact, the collapse of local news in recent years is considered by The New York Times to be a “national crisis” and is vital for a progressive society.
Ultimately it’s up to you to find different outlets, or at the very least to diversity your social media timelines so as to reflect the type of news that you hope to consume. I’m almost certain that it’s out there somewhere. It doesn’t have to be intimidating either. Check out this list to choose from 100 different ones. You just have to be willing.
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