Already this year, 17 journalists have been murdered for seeking out truth. These deaths took place in both the Americas, Africa and Asia. In 2016, the official number of journalists killed worldwide, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, was 77.
Although those killed this year have resided in several different countries, none of these deaths took place within United States borders, and none of the victims were American journalists.
Journalists in the United States have the privilege of rarely fearing for their lives when seeking the truth. Physical retaliation is scarce in this country, due to the Constitutional protection of speech.
This right is not granted to all journalists around the world, and American journalism appears to be taking this privilege for granted lately. U.S. media is not known for its honesty or trustworthiness anymore, and the credibility of the field is beginning to suffer.
Lately, U.S. news appears more theatrical than factual. Sometimes outlets choose to ignore significant actions and events due to the lack of excitement or fireworks they provide. Instead, they choose to cover hollywood-like stories, which often serve as a distraction from real news.
For example, this past February, multiple media outlets rampantly reported on Nordstrom’s reluctance to carry Ivanka Trump’s clothing line for weeks.
Congress subtly introduced a bill to terminate the Department of Education that same month and passed over 70 other resolutions and bills. Very few people heard this news.
A Miroslava la mataron por lengua larga. Que nos maten a todos, si esa es la condena de muerte por reportear este infierno. No al silencio.
— Javier Valdez (@jvrvaldez) March 25, 2017
February also saw the murders of five reporters from four different countries: Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic.
While our news worried about whether or not a department store would carry a clothing brand, journalists were losing their lives.
Mexico alone has seen six of its journalists killed in the last three months. All were known for covering corruption and organized crime in the country. All were publicly shot several times.
Javier Valdez, a highly regarded reporter in Mexico tweeted in March in response to the death of a colleague, “They killed Miroslava for saying too much. Let them kill us all, if that is the sentence for reporting this hell. No to silence.”
Valdez was killed less than two months later, gunned down by organized crime, and became the sixth victim in his country. He challenged corruption till his last days, and he died willing to expose it.
Despite death being a very real and close threat, Valdez, like many others, refused to back away from pursuing the truth. This same pursuit has cost many reporters their lives.
Meanwhile in the United States, terms like ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’ have been echoing through the news outlets. Instead of looking to them as a source of authenticity, citizens see the mainstream news networks as a source of entertainment. They expect to see a show, and they are usually right.
Audiences seem to no longer trust media outlets to be honest and forthcoming with information. There is no longer confidence in whether the news they are hearing is accurate.
Broadcasted news has become a place of competition for ratings. They race to put on a show rather than conduct comprehensive reporting. We have reached a place where satirical shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show” are regarded as more honest than official news sources.
The fact that the most widely known sources are the ones partaking in the spread of shallow stories has cast a shadow on all American journalism. Some outlets have rendered the news a joke, leaving little to be expected by audiences. Who can blame them?
These outlets are the public faces of this field, and as such should aim to accurately and honestly represent journalism. Truth should always win over ratings and spectacle.
Journalism around the world is respected and seen as a courageous passion, but not in this country.
Those in the limelight should be taking the lead to improve this profession, not cheapen it.
Saya is a sophomore political science and psychology double major.