Is Real Journalism Dead? Maybe Not If We Demand More.

by Diane Cullo

How do we as a nation perceive media coverage when it comes to the political landscape?  There’s the “mainstream” media that the vast majority perceives as news; the truth as reported.  Whatever is recounted by the mainstream on traditional or social media is professed as honest reporting of a candidate, an issue, or a movement.

But reporting over the past few decades has been sprinkled, sometimes infested, with superfluous adjectives that subliminally or overtly bias news coverage to the left.  More and more often, liberal-leaning journalists persuade rather than report, relegating those of us who believe in any or all of Ronald Reagan’s principles of conservatism into a proverbial media corner.  When was the last time limited government, lower taxes, faith or family were reported in a positive light on any major network or national newspaper?

Conservatives or even just right of center independents have turned to alternative networks, think tanks, or blogs to see, hear and read news that they can accept as honest reporting; and that sentiment as a whole has grown exponentially – albeit segmented, depending on how far-right of center the viewer.

Through it all however, there have been a few journalists implicitly trusted by the masses, regardless of that reporter’s political affiliation or beliefs. Think about it – David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, Helen Thomas, Christiane Amanpour, Tom Brokaw or Anderson Cooper’s reporting – to name a few – was  collectively accepted as factual news. Brian Williams was one of those reporters. Over the years, he earned our trust, and most had completely forgotten or didn’t care that he started his career in President Carter’s Administration. But whether Williams forgot what actually happened, embellished the truth, or just plain lied about that fateful night in Iraq isn’t the point.

The point is, what are we going to do about it, what can we do about it? Yes, we have a prime opportunity to actually DO something about this situation, to begin to change the way the news is reported nationwide.  But there is a choice: we can waste time pontificating about whether Williams’ punishment fits his “crime”, or we can use this as an opportunity to demand fairness – and truth – by the  mainstream news media. This is not just an opportunity – it is our obligation.  A free press – not a puppet press – is what our forefathers fought for; because they knew a free and unbiased press could keep the government in check.

Instead of cowering in the proverbial corner and complaining incessantly to other like-minded conservatives as we challenge every story reported, together let us use this as a first step to demand more of the networks and media conglomerates.  Let us not accept anything less than factual and fair reporting no matter the candidate, issue, or event.

If we as a nation demand more of certain people including, and most notably, our clergy and politicians, we must add journalists to that registry. For if we look at even The New York Times, they state in their Ethical Journalism Handbook for News and Editorial Departments, “Staff members who plagiarize or who knowingly or recklessly provide false information for publication betray our fundamental pact with our readers. We will not tolerate such behavior.”

Let’s take a page from their playbook and “not tolerate such behavior” from the media. We must apply another of President Reagan’s principles, our forefathers’ wisdom and vision, to look ahead and create a new beginning for journalism and journalists and make it what it was meant to be, a true, fair, and accurate reporting of the day’s news.

If we collaborate on this effort, we might be surprised at how well we work together. This just could be the beginning of bringing back the optimism and enthusiasm we had when President Reagan was at the helm. And if we can get that back, I will personally thank Brian Williams for his part in making it happen.

Diane Cullo is a veteran communications consultant and campaign strategist. She’s won – and lost – races at every level and most recently served as Executive Director of the Fairfax County Republican Committee.