Today I read a blog post from a local television sports reporter, who stated “On Facebook, a few of you said one of the problems with journalism is that opinions have no place. Wrong. Journalists should start an assignment with an open mind, and without bias or agenda, but thoughtful perspective is a reporter’s duty.” He went on to say “Walter Cronkite didn’t oppose the Vietnam War initially, but when he started questioning what we were doing over there, public opinion turned–correctly–against the war.”
These two statements are in fact very biased and go to show how the media no longer has any desire to report news to the people, but instead wish to report editorials as news in an effort to increase ratings and drive their view of what public policy should be.
First of all, a news reporter’s position is (or at least once was) to report the facts in a clear, complete and concise manner allowing the audience to build their own opinion, or perspective if you wish, of the situation. Only someone lacking all cognitive reasoning would want someone else to make their opinion for them. A person would have to be extremely narcissistic to think that their “thoughtful perspective” mattered to the masses.
When the honorable Mr. Cronkite gave his opinion about the Vietnam War, he did so as an editorial piece during the CBS Evening News. The difference being it was an editorial piece and stated as such before he spoke, giving advance notice that what he said was his opinion from his observations. I quite vividly remember Mr. Cronkite’s editorials and his reporting.
Mr. Cronkite, while on CBS’s Morning Show, had interactions with a lion puppet who would give opinions about events and people. Mr. Cronkite is quoted as saying “A puppet can render opinions on people and things that a human commentator would not feel free to utter. I was and I am proud of it.” This clearly shows that even though he had opinions on people and events, he felt an obligation to the public to relate only factual information.
Finally, for this “journalist” to say that the public opinion correctly turned against the Vietnam War is once again voicing his opinion as fact. Almost all wars are a waste of our youth, but when legislators try to run wars to appease their constituents that are being influenced by the media, our fighting men and women do not stand a chance. The media has voiced their opinion time and time again that the American public has a right to know what is going on during wars. They do this ONLY for their own ratings. The American public is not the only one’s watching the reports on TV; agents of the enemy have the same access to the reports. It was said that Saddam Hussein used foreign news reports as one of his greatest sources of intelligence information during Operation Desert Storm. In all armed conflicts since the end of World War II, the media has aided and abetted the enemy by announcing operational plans and troop locations. Yet, I have not once heard the media accepting their responsibility for the loss of American lives.
In closing, the media has a responsibility to the people to report the facts and only the facts. If I want to watch fiction, I’ll go to the movies where they have professional actors. If I want to read fiction, I’ll go to the library where the shelves are lined with professional writers. If I want the facts, I should be able to turn on the TV and watch the news.