Large news corporations cutting out journalism

People depend on a handful of network giants – ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX – that are owned by big media corporations to get information. Corporations present news the way they want it to be viewed. As a democracy, the people have a right to know what is going on in their country so they can exercise their right to play an active role. News companies with integrity have to report unbiased news so that citizens can trust they have the facts and make an educated decision about an issue. For example, citizens of Texas need to be told all of the pros and cons of the 16 newly proposed coal-fired plants so they can contribute their opinion on the issue before it is too late.

News coverage should not be propaganda. Unfortunately, entertainment and propaganda are what make news corporations the most money. In many cases, corporate control over the media has made news people trust the unbiased opinion of the company. A network will not cover stories about pollution from coal plants if TXU pays for air time on that network.

Democracy is in danger when media companies divert attention to corporate-sponsored interest instead of public interest. News programs fail when corporations get across the commercial messages they need to convey to keep sponsors happy.

The way that the media presents the “War on Terror” affects the way Americans feel about the war and the American government. According to Robert Greenwald’s 2004 documentary film, “OUTFOXED: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism,” Fox News influenced its audience to lose perspective on the situation. Al Qaeda attacked the United States; Iraq did not. Fox News generates fear among the American people by creating terror alerts, according to the documentary.

These alerts heightened American support for war with Iraq. A journalist’s job is not to persuade people to support everything the government does. Instead, she or he should give unbiased news and allow the people to decide their own opinions on every issue.

People have the right to choose what news stations they want to watch. The problem is when news companies report commentary as news. In the documentary, Bob McChesney accuses Fox News of manipulating journalism. Fox claims to have “fair-and-balanced” news. McChesney disagrees; Fox makes it hard to differentiate between news and commentary. Propaganda is delivered to viewers as a “news” story.

The future will be bright for people seeking factual news stories from journalists who want to protect democracy. When the government does not give the people all of the facts they need to know to maintain a system of checks and balances, it is imperative that the media does.

Bob Schieffer said in an interview with JournalismJobs.com, “I can’t think of any country in the world that has a citizenry that is more informed than the American people.”

It is important for the American people to demand the facts so they can truly say that they are the most informed country in the world.

Michelle Anderson is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Tyler. Her column appears Fridays.