Problematic Mainstream Media: A Case Study

Day after day I see constant posts on social media about the election. People are still angry and frustrated by the overwhelming stalemate it has caused in our country. People are afraid and marginalised. Others feel redeemed and vindicated. However, with such publicity, comes responsibility. Just this past Wednesday  (11/23) the CNN headline was “Trump Selects GOP Donor to Head Education Department”. The New York Times, headlines included “Trump Moves to Diversify His Cabinet With Latest Picks” and “Trump Tower: A Visual Visitors’ Log”. The Washington Post’s headline for the day was “Trump Nominates Nikki Haley, Betsy DeVos as First Female Cabinet Picks”.

Do you see a trend?

News sources are competing for the same headline, trying to cover the same story, ultimately, because they have to make money to be covering the same stories. It’s a cyclical nature of supply and demand, a classic economic concept that has been around since the birth of a national economy.

While major news sources have been covering the atrocities in Syria, no one is getting mad. It’s not trending on Twitter or Facebook. No one I’ve seen has posted anything but the election.

American headlines have been focusing on virtually touring the Trump Tower more than 250,000 men, women, and children have been killed, and there has been “dwindling supplies of food and medicine” (BBC, 2016). On October 2nd, the largest hospital in Aleppo was bombed. Two peoople were killed, while 10 were injured. (BBC, 2016). Airstrikes have been happening for months in Syria, yet when it comes to headlines, the US seems to only be writing about the refugee crisis, and not about why there is such an influx in refugees in America, which is misleading the public. Does it seem reasonable for mainstream American media to be focusing still on the election? No, it doesn’t. Where do we draw the line? What is the point we have drawn something out for too long? The answer is: whenever it stops selling.

While this election has distressed this nation, it has also shown us that American people can no longer be complacent or apathetic towards what is going on in our government. This whirlwind of events has given us the alarming wake up call to pay more attention. Yet, we’ve regressed. Last week, I asked several of my classmates if they knew the current situation in Syria after I heard them talking about the election and the news they saw that day. None of them seemed to even know what I was referring to.

I must confess, however, I am also a culprit of blindly following the headlines of mainstream media just as others have. I heard about what was happening in Syria from an international student, and I was ashamed that I didn’t even know what he was talking about.

It was from that moment that I realised that we, as a people, are entwined in our own realities, we have yet to recognise the worlds’. While we worry about the election, as righteous it may be, we must also be aware of international affairs as well.

Unsurprisingly, prioritising local upsets is a recurring theme in American mainstream journalism. It is not just this time in our country and what’s going on in Syria, the same thing  happens with almost any piece of foreign news that does not have to do with the United States directly that is put on the backburner of major publications’ daily news.

If we can’t accept the fate of the country, no more can we accept the fate of the world beyond us, either. Being educated, being a student, being a growing free thinker, it is our responsibility to hunt out the real issues of today’s society all around the world. We have the power to change this reality, but we cannot do so without the knowledge and awareness that sometimes mainstream news fails us.

Please refer to the BBC, Al Jazeera, the international sections of the New York Times and CNN, and the Boston Globe to learn more about the crisis and to keep updated. As people of education, we have the power to alter the course of what is being most publicised. If you would, share articles on social media that you find important for the public to read. We need to demonstrate the fact we care about the situation in Syria, and we don’t want bits and pieces of information anymore, we demand the whole truth.


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