Lately, when people say “the media” it always sounds negative. “The media” is such a broad term that people struggle to define it, since it encompasses so much. When something is so complex, and so involved in every aspect of life, it’s difficult to look at it without some kind of expectation. One of the reasons why “the media” has such a negative connotation is because of the expectations that people have. Since the media is our source of information, of course we will expect it to give us truthful information. So of course when it doesn’t, it hits us hard and we lump this foul-up into the category “problems with the media”.
So this brings me to a few questions. Is the media responsible for telling the truth, or is the media responsible for entertainment? Answer? Both. Media includes entertainment, and entertainment sells. So if a news station gives biased and untruthful news, we have to first ask what that particular news station considers as their priority. I believe it is the viewer’s responsibility to find out the priorities of the media sources they choose, just as we are responsible to check sources we find on the internet. We know some sources to be reliable, such as college journals and encyclopedias, and some to not be such as propaganda sites. The problem with this is that most popular news stations claim that they are unbiased and are often times not. It is my belief that it is near impossible not to be bias in some way. At the very least a perspective will be present in the way the news is presented. So in order for the news to be honest, and for the viewer to know what kind of information or rather what kind of perspective they are viewing, I believe that the media needs be presented following the pluralist theory.
Pluralism views society the way media must view society, as complex with several different groups competing and working together based on their own interests. This view of society is one we cannot avoid. Our society is not Marxist, so why should the media be presented in a Marxist way, with one dominant class being represented for the most part. According to studies, 83% of Fox’s viewing audience is republican and 64% of CNN’s audience is democratic. I see no problem with this dynamic, as long more people are aware of this. Do the majority of Republicans who watch Fox know that the news is given with a perspective that tends to lean to the right? I don’t know this for sure, but I’m going to say that they don’t and that they watch it because they agree with it. If the news station presents information under a certain perspective in a pluralist structure, and the viewing audience is aware of what perspective they have, then the viewers will have the choice. They can choose whether they want to only hear one side, and knowing be depriving themselves of a well rounded point of view, or to watch news from different perspectives to challenge themselves to find the most reliable and consistent information.
Since media is also a business, the goal will always be to make money. If we require the media to report unbiased information, we can never be certain that the information is in fact from a completely middle ground perspective. As I said before, it’s near impossible to present anything without any perspective at all, and I say especially when money is the driving force behind the production of the news show. However, if we know that the news is given from a perspective we cannot be tricked. That is really the biggest problem that people have with the media. It’s not necessarily the actual perspective that infuriates people, but the fact that some stations claim to be unbiased but then really are. If we rid the media of this pressure to be unbiased, there will not be the need to trick audiences into believing that the information is given without perspective. Bottom line, the media should be a source of information presented under a pluralist model and the control of what information the audience is subjected to should be up to the audience.