Editorial: The War on News Media

This week has proved to be a whirlwind for news media organizations. From the Covington Catholic High School students versus the Native American veteran, to President Donald Trump telling Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders not to bother with White House press briefings — the media just can’t seem to catch a break, and rightfully so.

As of now, the three released videos of the incident between the Covington Catholic students and Nathan Phillips, a Native American and Vietnam-era veteran, displays how each video showcases a very different perspective and story from one another.

Depending on which video is viewed first, the precedent of perceiving how the situation would be interpreted is set.

The first video that was released on Friday showed Nick Sandmann, a Covington Catholic student, squaring up against Phillips in a standoff on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

In the video, Sandmann is seen smirking while wearing the red “Make America Great Again” hat that was trademarked during Trump’s presidential election campaign, while staring down Phillips as he sang Native American songs and beat on his drum.

The altercation took place during a colliding of events between the March for Life rally and the Indigenous Peoples March.

Once the first video was released, the news media took it and ran with it, without digging in too deep and waiting for details to emerge. As a result, only Phillips’ side was heard while the high school students were taking all of the heat.

The video went viral and the public ran to their phones and computers quickly to cry outrage at the situation. Unfortunately, the media had a direct hand in causing such an uproar. Suddenly, every station was dying to have Phillips speak out on their show and the Covington Catholic students were nowhere in sight.

Sandmann has since spoken out and claimed that he stepped in between Phillips and a group calling themselves the Black Hebrew Israelites in an effort to diffuse the situation.

Unfortunately, situations such as these that result in inaccurate storytelling and the vast spreading of rumors can ruin lives, and this is something that will follow the students forever.

Regardless if the students’ actions were wrong or right, an accurate and honest picture has to be painted by the news media in order for the public to rightfully form their opinion instead of the media telling the story that best fits their political agenda.

Trump recently tweeted that he spoke with Sanders and told her not to bother with White House press briefing any longer due to the “ridicule” she endures by the press everytime she takes the podium.

There has not been a press briefing since Dec. 18, 2018.

Trump is only adding fuel to this raging Dumpster fire of “fake news” the media is trying to subdue and the public’s already skeptical opinion of the media is dwindling quickly.

The press is one of the only gateways the public has to honestly questioning their elected officials in power, which is a foundation this country was built on.

Without this opportunity, the public is missing out on questioning one of the highest ranking elected officials in the country, who has been making very impactful decisions on their lives, such as the  month-long government shutdown that is still in effect.

But after the Lincoln Memorial incident, does the news media even deserve that opportunity at the moment?

We are living in a time when missing one detail can send a story spiraling in the wrong direction and result in an misconstrued meaning in the public’s eye.

Once something goes viral, the news media is quick to pounce and report whatever they can about it, even it all of the facts aren’t apparent at first glance — and this is absolutely wrong.

The media has now entered into a market where the quickest source wins, and this leads to inaccurate information being spread to its consumers — this has to change now.

As members of the media, we have to remember to tread lightly with our words for they have more impact and influence than we might initially concieve.

It’s not only up to the media to change; it’s also up to the public to question everything and not rely on single sources for their news.

We have to do better. We can do better, and we will do better.