When I announced that I was going into journalism, people told me that it was a dying profession. They conveniently forgot to tell me that journalism was a thankless profession.
I know the media isn’t blameless, but it tends to take more heat than it deserves.
Take the current National Anthem situation for instance.
The media is continually focusing more on the simple of act of Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the National Anthem, rather than the reason he is kneeling. Headline after headline explains that Kaepernick is kneeling, but the articles only briefly mention that he’s doing it in protest of the police brutality.
Readers are left arguing over whether or not the NFL should discipline Kaepernick for dishonoring the flag, while others argue that it’s his constitutional right not to stand. They go back and forth about whether or not he’s ungrateful to those in the U.S. Military who have given their lives.
But no one is talking about the police brutality, the reason he is kneeling.
At first glance, it falls back on the reporters who are more concerned about what Kaepernick and other athletes will do; will they stand or kneel? Reporters aren’t asking more about why they’re protesting or what these athletes are actively doing to fix the problems.
So yes, the reporters and the media share blame in this fiasco that is the National Anthem debate. But they are not solely responsible.
As much as we love the idea of a free press, unfortunately, that’s not reality. Capitalism has a large part in the media business. Newspapers aren’t just solely to report the news; they operate for profit. They’re trying to make money so that they can stay open.
There’s a sense of entitlement among Americans that news should be free, which is much of the reason that people told me journalism was a dying profession. Smaller newspapers can’t afford to keep operating anymore because people don’t want to pay the subscription when they can find the information online for free.
So newspapers and magazines cater to what people will pay to read. And sadly, Americans don’t want to pay for the news as much as they will pay for opinions and gossip.
An article about someone refusing to stand for the National Anthem will insight reaction and will sell more copies than an article addressing the racial divide in the U.S.
Yes, the national media isn’t doing a great job of covering this anthem debate from a journalistic point of view. But the American people are eating it up. This is what people want.
If you want a better media, don’t be afraid to pay for a yearly subscription to your favorite news outlet. Don’t be afraid to demand more news and less fluff. But don’t blame the media for it all. Good journalism starts with you.