If you’ve paid any attention to what I write daily, you have to know my opinion of modern journalism is pretty low. Unlike some critics, though, I don’t really believe that there was ever a time when journalism ranked high on the truth-and-objectivity scale.
Being a historian has allowed me to analyze past journalistic approaches. Most of the time, there always was an agenda for any newspaper or other means of communication. Political parties hired their own editors and published papers offering their point of view. Some were more responsible in their editorializing, while others were little more than partisan pamphlets.
All we’ve done in our schools of journalism today is put a veneer of respectability on the profession. We mouth the mantra of seeking truth and protecting citizens through rigorous investigative reporting, while actually creating agenda-driven ideologues:
The one advancement that has been made over the last thirty years or so is the proliferation of sources for getting one’s news. No longer are we as tightly controlled by major networks as we used to be. I am grateful that I don’t have to rely on ABC, CBS, and NBC exclusively to find out what’s happening. Sorry, but I don’t have the same reverence for Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, and Dan Rather that some espouse.
Yet far too many of the programs, even on a source I find more trustworthy—Fox News—love to set up clashes between the sides on an issue that have no more possibility of enlightening the viewing public than the old pamphlet newspapers. Whenever I see a looming “debate” that is between official spokespersons from the political parties or competing campaigns, I know it will be all sound and fury, with very little light offered:
There is a place for honest debate, where people can lay out the principles that form the cornerstone for their beliefs. That kind of debate can help people think. Unfortunately, it rarely occurs.
Don’t give up on finding truth in our news cycle. Just be discerning. Use the analytical ability God has given to seek the truth, and don’t become simply a partisan hack yourself. Political drones, droning on and on, don’t seem to have an independent thought of their own. They do more harm than good to the public discourse.