Underreported News Leaves World Issues in the Dark

By TIMOTHY HECKER
On February 11, 2015

During my first semester at Ramapo I was given an assignment to write a paper on a news story that had been rarely discussed in mass media. The assignment involved going to a website that shares news topics not often addressed by the mass media, which got me thinking: the uncovered news is the single greatest fault in mass media and is severely hurting our nation’s perception and awareness of world events.

The impacts of not hearing about specific stories in the news can vary from environmental issues, to the crisis of countries that are not our own, to the plight of the poor and mistreated in our own country.

Paul Reck, a sociology professor at Ramapo, and I discussed different reasons for the lack of coverage in mass media on issues from the displacement of refugees in Syria, to the lack of available drinking water in Gaza, to the choices of big corporations here in America.

On the international front, Reck stated that Americans do not often care about stories unless it directly impacts them. He described a nationalistic view of what is important to American viewers, meaning that if it impacts people a world away, we do not often hear about it.

“Media in this country is a business about entertainment, so they don’t focus on central issues,” said Reck. “Journalists today are like stenographers because they don’t go away from official sources.”

With this in mind, it is not surprising that updates on Kim Kardashian’s life or the "deflate-gate" phenomenon involving the Patriots get all the coverage time, since these stories capture the public interests much more than contaminated drinking water in remote areas of the country and world.

Americans generally believe that our media covers the world's events, but it is often disclosed that many Americans do not trust journalists to accurately cover news.

According to Justin McCarthy’s new article and Gallup poll results, Americans' trust in the media is less now more than ever, and rightfully so. The numbers indicate America’s media trust has fallen for years, and over half of the country does not trust the media due to its bias.

This stems from corporate control, one of our nation’s largest problems.

The media outlets are often never free of corporate bias because media corporations tend to have massive control over major news networks. 

This kind of issue stems from the conflict journalists face by not reporting on what happens with big multibillion-dollar corporations. The shady activity that they are often involved with is mainly due to fact that the companies who own the media outlets do not report on themselves, or on other groups.

Journalists have also contributed to this issue since the extent of investigative journalism that goes into reporting a news piece seems to go as far as talking to or getting a statement from an official source, rather than digging deeper, past public relations representatives.

Reck also said that the United States media ranked on the low  end worldwide, and this is exactly how my class seemed to react last semester.

After speaking on the phone with Professor Jan Barry Crumb, who teaches environmental writing, about specific issues he saw in the media’s coverage on environmental issues, he compared the lack of coverage to “doing sports broadcasts for the first game of the season and then later a season wrap-up.”

This is the idea that only the first and last points of a story play into the big picture of journalism reporting, and that the issues in between are not nearly as covered.

We cannot expect to be spoon-fed the information we need to be completely and fully informed. Instead, consumers of the media need to dig a little deeper to stay aware of global issues.

thecker@ramapo.edu

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