As I sit here putting off papers and watching The West Wing and Newsroom, I realize that Aaron Sorkin is right.
Our country is not the best country in the world. We spend more money on military than anyone else combined and we constantly bicker and squabble over petty differences when we should be striving to make our country ever better and greater. We no longer can claim that we are the shining example for the rest of the world and the fault lies in everyone. America no longer questions itself because it is no longer informed. In a way right out of Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World,” our country is so diluted with information that we no longer know what is important. We have an institution in this country that is tasked to bring us the most important information so we may ingest it and make informed decisions so as to properly maintain our democratic process. That institution is the press and they have failed our country.
The rise of the 24-hour news cycle has led to a dilution of our news. Now that every single bit of information can be spread across the world in rates that would make the common cold jealous, we no longer have to worry about column inches or running into commercial breaks. Now we just through in a line that says to check our website or follow us on Twitter. With the constant ratings battles of televised news and the dying media of print journalism, whatever sells the most or brings in the most ratings wins the battle of importance. That’s why our country was obsessed with Casey Anthony and not with midterm elections, rising debt or the still ongoing wars. Please tell me how the trial of an alleged child murderer is more important than anything else that was going on? It wasn’t, but because we are obsessed with gossip and water-cooler chat, we had weeks of “specialists” and “insiders” telling us the real story. I am ashamed of the journalists who betrayed their obligation to our country so they could get a quarter-point bump in the 18-25 demographic.
If we want America to be grand and beautiful again, we need men and women who will inform us! We need the men who will call out a president for his crimes or sniff out the cronyism and corruption in our system. We need men who will report on wars, not from some predetermined press-relations center, but from the front lines! Show us what are senators have voted for. Let us decide if we have the moral obligation to invade a country. Let us know when our leaders lied about weapons of mass destruction in the hands of would-be terrorists. Help us elect the men who will do great things again.
I know I am rambling on after watching two shows based off of the ideal situation. Journalists have already attacked Newsroom for showing 20/20 hindsight and perfect situations, but so what. Our ideals are supposed to be grand. No one told us that the moon was too far or communism was too entrenched. No, we set our goals and we hit them. Our fathers will always remember sitting in their pajamas watching man walk on the moon and dreaming of being astronauts. We owe it to our future children to continue reaching those outlandish ideals so they can dream to be better than us. With real men and women showing us the way, we can do it again.
So here is your task. Stop watching the 24-hour news channels. Stop picking up trashy gossip rags. Stop letting the media betray you. When you hear about an issue, check every news site you can. Read the oppositions stuff. Read another country’s stuff. Watch the other guy’s channel. Maybe then you can get a real opinion. And when you are watching and reading this stuff, write a letter to an editor or call in to that talk show and let them know you want real journalism. You don’t want their opinion. You don’t want their spin. You want the facts laid out in an honest and unbiased way so you, the public, can make informed decisions. Oh and the next time you go and vote, make sure you don’t get your research from a campaign commercial.
And just as Will McAvoy in Newsroom says, we aren’t the greatest country anymore, but we can be.