Journalism is not just Who, What, When, Where, and Why. According to the American Press Institute, journalism’s obligations are to the truth, to the citizens, to independence from those they cover, and it must serve as independent monitors of power.
But who monitors journalism? The mainstream media (MSM) trend is negative clickbait headlines, but for some readers that is a turn-off. When I received my daily summary email from the Washington Post, the second headline caught my eye: “Federal appeals courts halts Biden Administration’s vaccine requirement, delivering major blow.” Having recently canceled my WaPo subscription, I Googled and found a USA Today piece explaining this decision is NOT a “major blow.” It is just the beginning of the process that will work its way to the Supreme Court, which has repeatedly turned away appeals seeking to block vaccine mandates. That is why WaPo’s headline turned me off.
Yesterday, NPR’s Here & Now covered rising inflation. Wapo’s congressional reporter Paul Kane was troubled by the recent number of employees quitting jobs, while Yamiche Alcindor countered it is a result of people needing to keep their jobs during COVID and now being able to leave for better jobs. Alcindor also pointed out the GOP are great at misrepresenting Democrats as the tax and spend party, despite ample proof that Democrats are better for the economy. Still, the GOP are blaming inflation on Biden’s spending packages. But under Trump, the GOP voted for huge stimulus payments and could be blamed for this inflation.
Another example is CNN headline, “History says Biden and Democrats probably won’t recover by the midterms.” Normally I might not click because of its gloom-and-doom nature toward Democrats. But the piece was very informative. The average net drop in presidential approval rating is 13 points, because ratings tend to revert to the point where half the population likes and half dislikes someone.
As we head into the midterms, Democrats find themselves in the similar position to the recent Virginia governor’s race, where history was against a Democrat winning. We came within 2 points of winning Virginia and if MSM had been less doom-and-gloom and more informative about Republican Youngkin, we might have closed that gap.
So, who holds the press accountable? We do. When they use scare tactics against Democrats, turn the channel, or cancel your subscription. Before sharing a piece on social media, copy and paste one salient point with it. To win the midterms, we must take control of our messaging.