Advocacy: Really not journalism’s thing.

Danny Fisher / Editor-in-Chief

If you ever need an example of why journalism is valuable, read (or watch) Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” series.  Every aspect of media within her fictional world, Panem, is designed to influence people to think a certain way.  Leaders, commentators, and reporters alike carefully construct announcements and “reports,” in order to control masses of subservient citizens.  No media on either side of a revolution against the Capitol, which for years has been selecting child representatives of each district in the nation to send into an arena to fight to their deaths, is presented with the sole intention of informing people.

In Panem, it is the absence of accurate, unbiased information that holds the entire population captive.  Without knowledge, they are unable to rebel against leaders who have only their own best interests at heart.  When a rebellion begins, they too restrict access to unbiased information, only releasing propaganda for their cause.  This results in a successful campaign, but also a continuation of the captivity the rebels had lived in for generations.

Unfortunately, though we live in a country that was founded on the values of freedom of speech and of the press, there are individuals who misunderstand the significance and purpose of news media.

On Nov. 18, reporters were banned from a sit-in in solidarity with the students at the University of Missouri at Northampton’s Smith College Center that drew several hundred protesters.  Alyssa Mata-Flores, a student and one of the protest’s organizers, asked that any journalists who wanted to cover the event participate in the sit-in and “articulate their solidarity with black students and students of color.”

In case the flaw with this logic is unclear, let me articulate that the role of news media in the real world is to be as unlike the media in Panem as possible…  So advocacy: really not our thing.

The reason behind our ethical responsibility to be impartial in our writing is simple; without access to accurate, unbiased writing, people are limited in their ability to understand the things that are going on around them and make decisions to act in their best interest.  To take away access to information is one of the surest ways to leave people defenseless.

If a cause is just, honest journalism will not represent it as otherwise, because it is not our role to lead readers to a conclusion in journalistic writing.  It is only our duty to give people the tools they need to come to their own conclusion.  We do not advocate because this is not Panem, and we should never disarm the public in such a manner as Collins illustrates.

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3 Responses

  1. Zack Sherman says:

    While great as a concept, it is hard to cry out as being unbiased when all major media outlets in the US show ready signs of corruption and gerrymandering on a near daily basis.
    Need we look any further than the results of the democratic debates to see a populace polled for facts and those facts ignored because they did not meet the agenda of the broadcaster? All polls indicated a win by Bernie Sanders and yet Hillary Clinton is declared the winner by major media outlets and the polls saying otherwise are removed. All due to corporate sponsorship of media by people interested in controlling the political dialog.
    Let us look at the reactions of the pundits and talking heads both during and following the shooting death of 14 people in San Bernardino California last week. No facts were in and the news media was already calling it an act of a crazed right wing fanatic possibly against Planned Parenthood due to the sites proximity. Then before victim’s families are even notified the media is using it to call for gun rights restrictions. All before any facts were in. Now that the facts are in that it was Radical Islamic Terrorists tied to ISIS not one single retraction has come in and the agenda of control is still being pushed regardless of the reality that it doesn’t fit the facts.
    To take a look at the other side, the CIA intentionally admitted to destroying two tapes of enhanced interrogation, torture, in order to use the news media to make Americans initial outrage minimal. They then waited and finally spoke the truth that the number of tapes was in the 70s after the shock had worn off. The American people had already become bored with CIA torture tapes so it didn’t matter. The news media had been used to sell the American people on a lie and any attempt to point it out and draw attention back was met by editors who wouldn’t front page it because it was old news.
    We as westerners, and especially as Americans, don’t actually get any truth from media because truth rarely sells. Journalism without advocacy is a joke. It is done here at the Sun Star through editorial shaping of content to better serve a commonly liberal slant, because that is the demographic of the campus. No media outlets are innocent and they never will be, we just accept it so long as it marches the party line. It is no longer a matter or right and wrong, fact or fiction, only shades of gray that sway toward the leanings of the collective who produces them. Advocacy might not be journalism’s thing, but it certainly isn’t free of it either.

  2. Caroline Hubbard says:




  3. Donald Tubbs says:

    Unfortunately, ‘pure’ Journalism free of mercenary concern went out the window with media conglomeration. Where there used to be hundreds of outlet competing for viewers, listeners, and readers there are only a half-dozen major outlets acting as a disinformation syndicate.

    And while many NeoCons like to trumpet ‘lack of fairness’ in mass media, let us not forget that Ronald Reagan repealed the Fairness Doctrine. That’s right, it was St. Reagan who did away with enforced even-handedness and his acolytes have been complaining about it ever since.

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