The media’s primary purpose is to provide the public with an accurate portrayal of the facts so that they can be familiar with what is going on in the world. If the media is irresponsible or reckless in their reporting, the public would not be properly informed.
With such a significant responsibility, the media should take extra care in what they report and what they say to their viewers and readers. The recent CBS controversy is an instance in which a large and respected outlet did not take sufficient consideration for their viewers about the material they were reporting on.
On CBS’ prominent news program ’60 Minutes,’ Dan Rather gave a report that was based on a series of memos reportedly written by Bush’s former commanding officer in the Texas Air National Guard.
The documents stated that Bush did not perform some of his required duties, thereby calling his credibility and service into question.
CBS’ lack of certainty about the documents’ legitimacy caused a heavy stir among both the public and other media. CBS and Dan Rather have since come forward and apologized for not verifying the documents’ authenticity.
Their disregard for authenticity is one case in which the media did not take the proper precautions with their sources and misled the viewing public.
All media outlets have the responsibility to provide the public with valid and authentic reporting, but long- established and highly respected media sources like ’60 Minutes’ have an even bigger responsibility because of their larger sphere of influence.
On a daily basis, people around the world are influenced by the information the media presents to them. The information in a newscast or a bias in reporting can have a huge impact on, for example, the outcome of a presidential election.
Throughout the years, viewers have come to respect and trust established news sources like CBS, NBC and CNN, among others. The difference between these programs and lesser-known sources is that their reporting has a long reputation of being trustworthy and accurate.
The public expects the reporting on ’60 Minutes’ to be well-researched and trustworthy. With this burden, CBS should have been much more diligent in verifying their sources and examining the content of their programs. Careless and sloppy reporting has no place in the media, especially in highly respected programs that have such a significant influence.
With this said, the viewing public should also be more cautious about the information the media feeds them. Media sources do attempt to be reliable, but unfortunately, mistakes will be made, and biases will be seen. Even with respected programs like ’60 Minutes,’ the public should not rely too heavily on these sources.
We cannot assume a story is well-researched just because it was on ’60 Minutes’ or CNN. Yes, these programs have earned their reputations for a reason, but the public also has a responsibility to not readily trust the things they see or read.
People cannot form educated opinions or take a stance on an issue by just watching CNN. Without a doubt, the media should be reliable and steadfast in their journalistic integrity, but people also have an added obligation to not be too trusting or susceptible to big-name media and what they report.
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