Lack of media integrity represents yet another seriouscrisis
A major factor in this year’s presidential campaign is something that should not be afactor at all: the media.What the nation needs, what the media are expected to provide, and what someAmericans think they are getting, is objective, balanced and fair coverage of theevents of the day. That, of course, is what the Society of Professional Journalists intends its profession toprovide, and so stated in its Preamble: “Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and thefoundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends byseeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public withthoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist'scredibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adoptthis code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.”America suffers mightily because the media have largely abandoned their ethical andmoral obligations in favor of pursuing political goals; no longer information purveyors,they are partisan players, who instead of providing accurate, objective news nowpush deliberately distorted partisan messages. This has earned the media a few derisive names: the lame stream media, the drive-bymedia, the lapdog media or press, the Ministry of Propaganda, the Talking PointMonkeys, presstitutes … the list goes on. The bias exhibited by the major media exists not only in how they presentinformation, but also in what information they present, what they don’t present, andthe amount of emphasis certain items receive. The issue is further clouded by the fact that many media outlets provide both newsand opinion. There is nothing wrong with that, so long as news and opinion arecarefully handled and kept separate, and opinion is clearly labeled as such. Far toooften, they get mixed together.It doesn’t get much worse than when the media take sides, as they have done in thepresidential campaign. One recent example resulted from a meeting Republicanpresidential candidate Mitt Romney held with a few supporters in a private home inFlorida. Speaking to a group of like-minded supporters, Mr. Romney made commentsthat on the surface conveyed a message that seemed to show his apparent lack of concern for approximately half the country.Such an interpretation doesn’t pass the smell test, of course, as indicated by the highlevel of charitable giving the Romneys donate each year – nearly 30 percent of netincome in 2011 – but it makes a good story and helps the media boost theircandidate, Barack Obama.