Popular "Rap" on Media is Wrong

The media is many things to many people. A “watchdog” working in the public interest; an entity focused on sensationalism and ratings/sales; and, the “root of all evil.”  In recent days, the media has found itself once again publicly “called out” on a number of fronts—and unjustifiably so.

This week during WADL-TV 38’s live Detroit City Council candidate debate, Ron Dzwonkowski of the Detroit Free Press asked the candidates why, in their view, people were leaving the city in droves and what they would do to stem the exodus. Council hopeful Mohamed Okdie, answering first, put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the media—specifically citing Time magazine.  Kwame Kenyatta, up next, said he agreed with Okdie. Subsequent responses (including by Gary Brown and Charles Pugh) cited more likely suspects: crime, schools and public corruption. 

The Detroit Free Press, this week, is also being cited for wrongdoing in the Kilpatrick whisteblower case (you can read today’s story here). And, on a national scale, many are criticizing the early gullibility of the press in covering the “balloon boy” story.

As someone who works hand-in-hand with the media everyday (and worked within it for over a decade early in my career) I am no doubt biased in their endorsement. Yet, hear me out. The argument that the media only covers bad news is false.  While there is no doubt that scandal and heartache often “lead,” any true news consumer knows that, in reality, mainstream media also covers stories on good news and other important issues of the day. And, when it comes to rooting out wrongdoing, one need look no further than the investigative excellence of a 60 Minutes and the Pulitzer Prize winning work of the Freep in exposing Kilpatrick and his corrupt reign. Further, when 6-year old Falcon was reported missing, media immediately sprung into action, to the pleas of his parents and at the direction of police, to locate a child that may well have been in grave danger.

Media can be a convenient scapegoat for the ills of the world.  In reality, we’re fortune to have them and the “checks and balances” they provide.