First, “liberal” is a word thrown around very often and I’m not convinced that everyone who uses it really knows what it means. I believe it really covers “progressive”, “moderate”, “open-minded”, and a whole host of other words but for the sake of this piece, I will use the word liberal. As for the term “right wing”, it also refers to words like “republican”, “conservative”, “Christian”, (and it maddens me that the word “Christian” somehow only applies to the right wing) but for arguments sake, I’ll use the words “right wing”.
I hear so much from the right wing pundits and talk show hosts both on radio and television claiming that the mainstream media is too liberal. I would like to take a stab at explaining what I think is going on.
A true Journalist, and by that I mean people who went to school to learn Journalism, is taught to dig deep and find all sides of the story. Yes they need to answer the questions who, what, where, when, why, and how but it goes further than that. While true Journalists are taught to remain impartial and deal in just the facts, I think it is difficult, in fact impossible, to keep one’s personal views 100% separate one’s journalistic reporting.
Pundits and talk show hosts, on the other hand, usually have no such formal training. A Pundit’s mission is to further the Agenda. By Agenda I mean “to sway opinions and call others to action” in their fervor to get the point across.When a real Journalist peels away all of the layers of a story, they probably discover where the real hypocrisies are, where the real hardships are, where the truth is, and how a person or situation got to the current state.I’m going to use a story about homelessness as an example. A right wing pundit might say that the homeless person must have done something to get that way, it’s their own fault, and they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop relying on taxpayer money. That is how conservatives can be “fiscally responsible”.
A journalist would spend a lot of time with that homeless person. The journalist might learn that this person was injured and unable to work, lost their job, have no money for medical treatment, and lost their family in the process. The weeks, months, or years of this may have taken their toll on this person who now probably needs psychological help as well. Maybe through some stroke of luck this person finally found some public agency, nonprofit, or coalition that was willing to help and by chance maybe these helpers get some of their funding from taxpayer money.
To the real journalist, there is much more emotional involvement than just sitting in front of a microphone, orating on what they have read, heard, or simply know through their own life experience. The journalist has gone out to get to the truth by looking at all sides and asking the right questions BEFORE making any judgment.
This is just one example, and maybe a pretty weak one at that, since I am not a journalist. I am simply trying to point out that it is not Liberals that become Journalists; it is Journalists that become Liberals because they are exposed to more humanity, and inhumanity, simply by doing the job they were trained to do.
So the next time you hear someone like Rush Limbaugh call the real Journalists in the media “left wing liberal extremists” or something close to that, please take a step back and understand that a journalist is a highly trained professional. And through that professionalism, an open mind, and an open heart, become infused into their work. They may have what appears to be a liberal bias but here is one definition of liberal:
Favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
I don’t think that is bad thing. I know that some right wing pundits might be real journalists. And I know that not all true journalists are liberals. But there is an awful lot of chatter about a liberal media slant. In my humble opinion, I think I know why.
Thanks for hearing me out.