As a journalist, I always find my temper rising a little when someone makes a negative comment about ‘the media.’ Those comments always side to me as if every publication in the world is part of one big conspiracy to take away the ability to think and reason from the reading public. A couple years ago my response was usually to walk away from the conversation because every time I entered into an debate I ended up losing the intellectual argument or being told I was a silly naive journalist.
The amazing thing is, so many people don’t bother to take the time to write a letter to the editor or to leave a comment. So what happens is that the more outspoken side of the issue is usually more significantly represented because they take the time.
For instance when I was in college I went and toured the Chicago Tribune, a very reputable newspaper in the USA. I sat in a discussion with the editor in chief, the editorial board and the person in charge of reading and posting the letters to the editor. Some drama was happening at the time, I don’t even remember what it was, but it was polarizing. The editorial board’s rule of thumb for publishing was to try and print one letter from both sides of the issue. The only problem… there were more than 200 letters written from the left side of the issue and only 3 written from the right side. Of those three, only one was written in a respectful way, but that one wasn’t well informed or well written. Only one letter ran – a left-sided letter, because the others were just not fit for publication. When I worked for the New York Times and was in charge of reading through reader comment emails – I saw much the same phenomena.
There is a huge opportunity out there to interact with media outlets. So instead of complaining about the focus of an article or the slant of a publication, why not write a well-thought, brief letter or comment and start changing it from your living room?