The Media Makes it True

The Media Makes it True

Rachel CohenFriday,29 April 2016

If you’ve been living under a rock (is there room for me?) then maybe you missed that Prince died. If not, you were barraged with thinkpiece after thinkpiece talking about Prince from one angle or another.

Gawker had an excellent article about this very thing last Friday, taking it to the level where you can even create your own Prince thinkpiece title.

How Prince and Eyeliner Revolutionized Me

Oh, that’s good. And I’d probably read it.

But the whole response to Prince is yet another way in which the media controls our lives. Yes, Prince died, and that needed to be reported. Yes, the loss is ABSOLUTELY MONUMENTAL AND SAD and worth mourning as a nation. THAT BEING SAID, we don’t need to know and speculate about the minutiae of his life for days on end. That is weird, and voyeuristic, and exactly reflects where we are as a nation.


And like that, the tide turned. If you went anywhere near social media on Saturday, then you learned that BEYONCE RELEASED A NEW ALBUM, and if you read any blog or news outlet then you learned that BEYONCE RELEASED A NEW ALBUM and you should also check out 10 REASONS BEYONCE LOVES HER CHILD and also ARE YOU A BEYONCE OR A MICHELLE?

It’s like we can’t help it as a people. Something happens, and a hundred people need to tell you how they feel about it. Granted, this is in part why social media took such a hold of our consciousness, and why you love reading blogs like this one, but is that supposed to be the role of the media? Are we supposed to be drowned out by the feelings of others so that they tell us how to feel?

This is why the media is playing such a pivotal part in this election. The going theory is that media coverage of Trump – despite being predominantly critical – helped legitimize him as a candidate, and well, here we are. It’s the same reason that Sanders was touted as unable to win – and had an uphill battle to show that he maybe had the chops. The more you say something, the truer it becomes.

We love the spectacle, and we love to consume more and more of it. Trump hands this out to us willingly, and the media can’t wait for his next outrageous move (you know every editor has a Trump Did What? lined up ready to go).

But, it comes down to who is journalizing the journalists. Last week, activist-writer Shaun King was absolutely ripped apart when it seemed like he has been directly plagiarizing articles from other sources for his Daily News articles. It was the moment apparently most of the media had been waiting for, as people began with their “I knew it!” pieces and “I told you so!” posts. So then, when it came out hours later that it was actually his editor’s fault, and that he had properly attributed sources in his drafts, the witchhunt ended – but the thinkpieces remained.

And isn’t that the problem of media, and the crux of their responsibility? If I write a social media post, then maybe all of seven people see it. If The Daily Beast posts ten articles about a topic that each of their reporters goes on to independently comment on – then the idea exists out there in the world, getting repeated by different venues until it becomes truth.

And that’s how we ended up with Trump as a potential candidate. If we want to see some change, it’s time to place some responsibility on the shoulders that deserve it.

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Image Credit: Michael Vadon on Flickr

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