Can’t choose the news

For years, the public has relied on journalists to get them the news, but what some don’t see is that every so often the news isn’t the whole truth.


Camille Gretter

The news and their sources have been publishing the hidden truth, or a fabricated one, leading to miscommunication to the public that can be devastating.

On Dec. 15, 1791, the United States of America ratified the Bill of Rights, which stated that Congress shall make no law that would abridge the freedom of the press. The first amendment is the reason journalism is the way it is in America; without it, we might never get the truth. But therein lies another issue: are we actually getting the full truth?

The short answer is yes. Especially with how crazed people are about their public image these days, most reliable news sources would get sued, and have their names smeared if they were to lie about a significant issue and publish it. I say reliable news sources because obviously gossip magazines such as TMZ and DailyMail publish all sorts of madness that is pretty much comical at this point, but if somewhere like the Washington Post published false news about, say, a presidential candidate or a prime minister then that would be a lawsuit that would be very tough to come back from. So, it would make sense for the media to always tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Unfortunately, this same logic isn’t always used. 

One of the most well-known liars in journalism is Stephen Glass. And while, yes, the movie Shattered Glass dramatizes his crimes immensely, and chooses a way-too-likable actor to play him, Glass did some incredibly harmful work. A reporter for The New Republic, it was later revealed after his termination that 36 of his 41 published articles were either partially or wholly fabricated. These articles had fictitious quotes and incidents, and some just never even happened at all. This crisis was Glass’s fault, it is also fair to say that it is the editors’ fault as well for not fact-checking his work. This not only damaged the publication’s reputation but also tarnished the media’s credibility in general. 

Withholding the truth isn’t always to be blamed on the media, though, because many public figures don’t tell the full truth to begin with. At the beginning of the pandemic, former President Donald Trump was made aware of the deadliness of the Coronavirus, and he chose to keep that information a secret from the public until Sept. 2020. As he did it to “prevent panic”. While the president’s job is to keep the chaos in the U.S. to a minimum, one might wonder where we would be if the public was given the correct information. Maybe it would be chaos, but maybe the U.S. could’ve been more prepared, and we wouldn’t be over 900,000 COVID deaths. The fact is, we’ll never know what could’ve happened because we didn’t have the truth when we needed it. 

Another way news sources can hide the truth is by protecting certain people, such as their staffers and celebrities, in order to save their reputation. In late February, a local news channel for Iowa, KCRG, announced that they fired an anchor, Jay Greene, on account of him violating the station’s code of conduct in an unnamed incident. With some internet sleuthing, you can find rumors about the incident KCRG is referring to, but the news channel has yet to come out with a statement on his grounds for termination. The station said in a briefing of the situation that they would not comment “out of respect for all parties involved.” This is ironic considering two days later, the station published an article about a superintendent who displayed inappropriate behavior towards her students. The article included her name and an obnoxiously large photo of the superintendent. While there have been no formal charges towards Greene, it seems a little hypocritical for KCRG to say “out of respect” when they do not share similar respect towards other subjects of their articles. It’s very clear that lots of favoritism were shown in the statement on Greene, which isn’t the real news. 

As a reader, I want the truth, and the whole truth when it comes to news. The possibility of facts being fabricated or hidden is not something that the public should have to worry about when reading the news. The media world needs to change the way we approach issues and throw all of this bias and lies out the window. No one gets to pick the news, but they do get to pick how they tell it, and as journalists, we need to give the honest truth. Always.