Media Bias: A Former Reporter’s Thoughts on Presidential News Coverage
By Cheryl Probst
I was a proud member of the news media for 30 years, back in the days when a reporter was someone who trained for the profession and took pride in their work. Above all, reporters were objective.
When I see what is happening with the national media today, it makes me want to throw up. Objectivity? What’s that?
When I was starting out as a newspaper reporter almost 50 years ago, it was pounded into my head that reporters did not have opinions; if we did, we couldn’t report objectively on something.
If you had an opinion, you kept it to yourself. You did not tell your spouse or your best friend, but you might tell fellow reporters over a few drinks because you knew they’d protect your secrets just as you did theirs.
I remember almost being fired from my first reporting job because I was sent to cover an anti-gun control meeting and signed a petition supporting the group. Instead, I was severely lectured that signing a petition took away my objectivity. It was a lecture that has stayed with me ever since, and I don’t think I’ve ever signed another petition.
At one newspaper I worked for, objectivity was so heavily stressed, the managing editor used to tell us an article wasn’t truly objective unless it made both sides mad.
What has happened to objectivity in the press in the last 50 years, and particularly with this election? Do reporters today even know what objectivity is?
Objectivity in News
Objectivity is giving both sides fair coverage. That is not what’s happening with this election. I read several major news outlets online every day. Nine times out of 10, they’ll run a picture of Donald Trump scowling. Ten times out of 10, they’ll run a picture of Hillary Clinton smiling. Is that being objective? Not by any definition of the word as I know it.
Donald Trump’s screw-ups get lead position with big headlines and gigantic pictures of him scowling. Hillary Clinton’s screw-ups, and she has just as many if not more than Trump, are very brief and buried way down on the web page. Is this being objective? Hardly.
In 50 years of monitoring the news, I have never seen a time when the national media went out of their way this much to make one candidate look bad and the other look good.
The other day I saw a headline that said Trump “imagined” the media were out to get him. He didn’t have to imagine it; they are out to crucify him.
Donald Trump is a brash, in-your-face, sometimes annoying, tell-it-like-it-is person. But, you always know where you stand with The Donald; he is not the type of person who says one thing to your face and the exact opposite behind your back. He is an outsider who doesn’t play by the media’s rules.
The national media cannot control him, ergo, they do not like him. They are afraid of him. For me, at least, that is a big plus in his favor.
The national media seem to forget he got this far because people wanted him, that people felt a changing of the guard was in order.
Mainstream Media Bias
The condition of the national news media today is, for me, a very sad situation. But, what can you expect from a media that elevates the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of Who Cares Where to super-star status?
And what can you expect from a news media where anyone with a computer, an internet connection and a press card that cost them all of $5 can call themselves a reporter?
Somewhere out there I know there are still reporters who believe in the same values that I have cherished for so long. It’s time they made themselves heard!
As Americans, the First Amendment to our constitution guarantees us freedom of speech, which includes freedom of the press. But the situation today is more like a free-for-all press and I cannot in good conscience support it.
Cheryl Probst was an award-winning newspaper reporter, editor and publisher for 30 years, working for newspapers in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, New York and China. She spent much of her reporting years covering politics and all levels of government, from city council to Congress.
Read more about Cheryl:
Cheryl's Northwest: come exploring with me!
Check out my books and podcasts on Amazon Kindle
Travel in China
Cheryl's Guides: Parents Guide to Beijing, DIY Beijing, Cuandixia, Motorcycle Museums of the United Kingdom, Yellowstone on a Motor Scooter
Cheryl's USA: Jon and Cheryl's excellent adventure!
Original Article on Linkedin
More Articles for Baby Boomers:
- Main Photo: Media Bias Trump and Hillary. Composite of Hillary debate photos from a UK news site, CNN, MSN, and Slate. Composite of Trump debate photos from MSN, CNN, PBS, and Daily Mail UK.
- Reporters Didn't Have Opinions (back in the 60s): Walter Cronkite, Wikimedia Commons.
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