The United States has now gone a full week with a government shutdown in place. Federal offices are not functioning, government employees have been sent home from work and our economy is taking a major hit. However, our government is not the only thing failing us right now. Major media is, as well.
We at The Concordian have been following coverage of the government shutdown and taking note of the way in which mainstream media is portraying the event. It is not doing so justly.
The purpose of the media is to give the public a thorough and accurate depiction of current events. Often media outlets understand this to mean they ought to give both sides of an argument an equal amount of airtime or space. In doing so, however, the media legitimizes both sides of the argument. It is not always the case that both sides of an argument are correct. In a failed attempt to report the news in a “fair and balanced” manner, the media actually works to further misinform the American people by giving credence to both sides of an argument.
Coverage of the current shutdown is essentially a game of he-says-he-says (thanks to the underrepresentation of female members of Congress) rather than an informational breakdown of the current situation. The electorate is horribly uninformed about the current situation. They are uninformed about exactly why they got to the point where their country is without a functioning government, and news sources are doing little to explain the situation.
Instead of focusing on the blame being thrown around on the all-but-deserted Hill, news media must explain to the viewers why our government has been taken hostage by a minority faction. This minority faction has refused to cooperate unless a piece of legislation approved by Congress, the American people and the Supreme Court is defunded. Instead of hearing this story, however, viewers are likely to just hear that Speaker Boehner and President Obama are exchanging heated words.
A functioning country needs a well-informed electorate. To have a well-informed electorate, a country needs quality media outlets. Media in the United States is failing its audience.
News sources are failing to report the news, and the American people are paying the price. They just do not know it.
This editorial was written by The Concordian Editorial Staff.