//The press isn’t at fault: You are.

The press isn’t at fault: You are.

“The media is the enemy of the people.” Donald Trump has continued to lambaste what he considers
to be a dishonest media in the United States. The current American administration has appeared to
have doubled down on this statement as Sarah Sanders refused to clarify the White House’s official
stance on the matter. While these inflammatory comments have done nothing but increase the war
of words between the media and presidency -in reality- they reflect an observable trend in the
western world. The public does not trust mainstream media anymore.

A recent survey published by the American Press Institute confirms this. 44% of Americans, the
largest percentile, declared that their trust in the press had decreased in 2017. 53% of Americans
believe that the press had become too ideological. Trust in the press has been on a gradual decline
since the September 11th attacks. While Donald Trump and many conservatives race to blame the
“mainstream media” directly for this mistrust, I propose a different conclusion. The press is not
becoming more dishonest, we are simply becoming over-reliant.

The goal of the media has never been to inform the masses. The media, since its advent, has been
used to push agenda and commentary. As humans living in a digital world, we have become
incredibly lazy in sourcing information. While traditional broadsheet press allowed for greater
consumer choice, nowadays, media outlets are largely selected by the public according to their
accessibility. Most consumers will consume whatever information that is presented to them,
provided that it requires no effort to attain. As such, the largest corporations with the latest
technology will be the most successful in propagandising. While the left decries “press for profit”, I
do not see this as an issue. To consider a press organisation as anything less than a company or a
political advocate would be naïve. It is the media’s right (as long as they do not slander or provably
lie) to spread paid-propaganda.

This does not, however, make the media an invalid source of information. Media should be biased. It
should be broadly biased. It’s up to you to be sceptical. The press has never been impartial and nor
is it obliged to be. We have never lived in a utopian age of accountable and honest press. Media bias
should be an incentive for consumers to diversify their sources of information. Truth is subjective
and tangible. No organisation, despite its prestige, can provide a perfect mix of information and
commentary. I am passionately right wing, I always will be, yet this will never stop me from choosing
to read feverish left-wing media. The Socialist Worker is just as credible a source of commentary as
the Daily Telegraph. The decline of the coffee table press has largely impeded consumers’ ability to
expose themselves to opposing points of view. Instead of being able to cross reference different
opinions from numerous broadsheets scattered across a dining room table, we are now
algorithmically groomed into consuming one-dimensional press from apps, social media and
television. Media dishonesty is not a problem. Consumer attitude is.

However, there is a third-party at play: One more menacing than uninformed readers or dishonest
press. Government. More specifically, “impartial” state-run media. Most nations did away with
state-run media hundreds of years ago. The U.S possesses many news organisations that pretend to
be “impartial” yet they are not recipients of government money. The United-Kingdom,
unfortunately, has yet to learn of the dangers of publicly-funded “impartiality”. Impartiality is
impossible to define. To whom is impartial media impartial to? Is it impartial in the eyes of the
public? Or is it impartial in the eyes of the government itself? The BBC, for the most part, operates
like a company. It is paid for by consumers and sells its services worldwide. I do not pretend that the politics of the current ruling party greatly influences broadcasting. If this were the case, then we may
have enjoyed nearly eight years of right-leaning press. Ironically, the BBC is biased due to its
government-mandated status of impartiality. In my view, the BBC would be a more useful source of
commentary if its news reporting was affected by which party led the country. To quote Andrew
Marr:

The BBC is a publicly-funded urban organisation with an abnormally large proportion of younger
people, of people in ethnic minorities and almost certainly of gay people, compared with the
population at large.” All this, he said, “creates an innate liberal bias inside the BBC.”

I have no opposition to biased media, as I have made perfectly clear, however political commentary
masquerading as impartiality should be stamped out at its core. My argument is not entirely an
argument founded by the right. In the past, the BBC was accused of right-wing bias and still is by
some today. While to any right-leaning individual the left-wing bias is plain to see, many leftists
blame the BBC of having too many members with connections to the Conservative party. I do not
agree with their conclusions; however, I fundamentally agree with their argument. Why should an
organisation receive public money to provide an impartial service, when nobody can agree upon
what level of impartiality we receive?

The BBC is a bad habit learned by most British people. It is accessible and effective. I consciously
made the decision to stop consuming “impartial news” several years ago, yet it is a habit that is hard
to quit. As I find myself drifting to my phone or the television, I instinctively access BBC news for
information. Breaking the cycle of fast-food media is difficult and made me realise how heavily many
rely upon it. I realised that I was treating fundamentally biased information as gospel, without truly
formulating my own opinions on world events. In the U.S and the UK, and the rest of the world for
that matter, the current discontent with the media is created by an ignorance of how the press
works. Nothing is impartial, nothing should pretend to be. All press carries commentary, which is
often more important than the information itself.

It is up to you to listen to many opposing sources in order to formulate a more genuine
understanding of an issue. If you feel that the press is being dishonest with you, then vote with your
feet. Do not complain of dishonest or impartial media and content yourself with the same sources.
Donald Trump misses the point when he accuses the media of dishonesty. While you shouldn’t trust
any media source, the problem is not so one-dimensional. The downfall of dishonest media will not
be through the creation of an “honest media”, but rather through a diverse media and an informed
public.