The Media has two faces

By Editors
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 8, 1997
Journalists don't make the news, they report the news.

As the details of Princess Diana's death unfold, so do the speculations that the media has also made the news. As news stations report that the cause of the accident has been linked to seven free-lance photographers, overnight, the world begins to associate true journalism and photojournalists with tabloid trash and peeping-tom paparazzi. Now is the perfect time to tell readers why journalists write what they do, why events are photographed and printed and why stories are chosen to run where they do.

Professional journalists define news as "information that has recently happened and affects the lives of a majority of people." It almost always needs to be timely, but more important, it always has to be factual, accurate, free of bias and beneficial to the community it serves. There are always two sides to a story, and true journalists try to gather that information as objectively as they can and as best as the law and the public allow. It is the search for truth in today's troubled and chaotic society. It is the only job protected by the U.S. Constitution, free from licensing and regulations, because "it allows for the free flow of democracy and the expression of individual opinions." The First Amendment protects all individuals, not just journalists, from being imprisoned by a government system for gathering information and telling the truth to the public. Many of us become journalists because we whole-heartedly believe in these ideals. We believe we are the recorders of history and observers of every-day life. The same applies to photojournalists.

Seldom do credible newspapers insensitively print photos for affect or sensationalism. Pictures tell a story of what really happens, allowing readers to witness reality, so that they can experience the joys and tragedies that shape daily lives. Photos add credibility and validity to the stories that journalists report. It would be naive to say that if the public doesn't see it in a picture, it really didn't happen. Perhaps what truly disturbs readers is not the gross images of a dying child on the front page of a "family newspaper," but the fact that they cannot or will not be bothered to do anything to change the reality of these tragic events.

As the media reports on the deaths of two of the most beautiful women in the world, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, one cannot help but notice the impact that the media has had in the shaping of the public's perception of these two individuals. Both are remarkable women who became known to the world through the media's coverage.

Would the public have forgiven the media if we had decided not to broadcast or report the deaths of these two women.

Journalists are the first to admit there is more than one bad apple in the bunch, as is true in all professions. Sadly, we all take responsibility when events are reported unfairly.

Regardless, the media must be allowed to report all of the news, unpleasant as it might be, or we run the risk of providing only one side of the story; portraying life through rose-colored glasses and picture perfect images of a world that doesn't exist. Readers cannot honestly think that if journalists don't report it, maybe, it really didn't happen.

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