I shouldn’t have to clarify on my own blog that this is an op-ed piece from the author, but because you never know where this may end up, here is my disclaimer.
Since journalism was my first career path post-college, I’d like to consider myself an avid supporter of the Chicago media outlets. Knowing I like to have a well-rounded perspective of the news, I read the newspaper (now online), I listen to talk radio and I watch a few different TV media outlets each day. Lately I’ve been questioning from where I’m receiving my local news. What I’m starting to get fed up with is the lack of fact-checking and respect for integrity in journalism. I realize the “old news formats” are competing with the instant gratification outlets of social media like “The Patch.” There has to be someone accountable for the laziness in today’s reporting!
The current presidential race, which is LOADED with very poorly fact-checked stories and comments, which are then retweeted to encourage the spread of more untruths. A good example of this was from the day of the Paris ISIS attacks. A meme started quickly circulating saying that France had closed its boarders, therefore Donald Trump’s isolationist stance on refugees and other immigrants held some validity. Well, actually France continued to let refugees into their country (even on the day of the Paris attacks) and they only closed their boarders to anyone trying to LEAVE France until they were questioned by authorities, but the hot-button words “closed boarders” are so polarizing that certain manipulators (the creators of these types of memes) out there know that they can use those words to get others to share and perpetuate the false information. So many stories posted in social media are not true, or completely outdated, and many people don’t take the time to pause and think, “Um – let me research this a bit more before I share this information with 1,000+ contacts who can share it with their friends too.”
Integrity is a word that I heard a lot the past few days as it relates to the good, kind, thoughtful, well-thought-out, acts of a person. The dictionary has defined it as a noun, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness”. If this is to be true, the Chicago media outlets have shown a lack of integrity beyond words the past 24 hours. A local TV channel was repeatedly showing a Chicago firefighter being carried to an ambulance on a stretcher by his comrades while CPR is being administered, knowing they were reporting this story after confirmation of the firefighter’s death. While this looks like a scene straight from a TV show, it’s not. This is real life! This is someone’s father, husband, son, uncle, brother and friend. This footage should not be looped on the local news outlet as part of the story for hours on end. Why is it that we took the family of a slain law breaker into consideration and cut the video footage just before his death, but we continue to loop the footage of a fallen firefighter who died while doing his job and making the ultimate sacrifice?
We need to demand better reporting in the Chicagoland area and also put the onus on us the reader/viewer to seek out facts in journalism. We need to take responsibility to not post stories on social media without seeking the source of those articles or the validity of the information. We are driving ourselves crazy with social media! If you have the time to troll on social media for hours on end, take the VERY limited time that it takes to check your stories before you share them with others.