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The toll of professional journalism

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  1. Introduction
  2. The official basis of journalism
  3. The standardization of journalism
  4. The legitimacy of the source
  5. The major ideological conflicts
  6. Conclusion
  7. References

The nightly news is a ritual that millions of Americans are attune to from California to New York. For many people, their busy lives have slowed down enough to sit and watch the news: people are home from work, supper is over, dishes are done, children are in bed. This may be the only time during the day that people can keep themselves informed of the local, national and international events, and they are expecting to catch a factual account of the day's happenings. No biases, no BS, just facts.
Unfortunately, the media has not shown to be the most reliable source for information. The media has exercised their power over the people of the United States by picking and choosing what we should be watching or listening to. The rise of professional journalism has also compromised the integrity of the news that is delivered. The entertainment that is available to Americans exists only to further profit the owners of the media companies. The institution of the media has the power to control what we watch (news, entertainment, advertising) and it is important to know where this power comes from so that you become knowledgeable of the truth.

The official basis of journalism in a democratic society is the direct presentation of multiple perspectives, without commentary or analysis. However, the purpose of journalism is described by McChesney (2004) as follows: ?To act as a rigorous watchdog of the powerful and those who wish to be powerful; to ferret out truth from lies; and to present a wide range of informed positions on key issues? (p. 57).

[...] This one-sided presentation of information is contradictory to the original belief of presenting information without biases. In addition to granting legitimate power to official sources, professional journalism avoids contextualization. Contextualization ?attempted to place every important issue in a larger political ideology to make sense of (McChesney p. 71). Placing ideas into a framework allows for the reader to better comprehend the importance of the story. Journalists avoid this because it implies they are taking a definite position on a story, which is a direct violation of the professional code. [...]

[...] These shows often mischaracterize the lives of gays and lesbians into stereotypes which are found to be entertaining to the public. The networks have the power to play on this and do so with little regard to the stereotypes they convey about the LGBTQ community. Another way to look at this is from a racial perspective: a network would come under heavy criticism if all of its black characters reflected negative stereotypes. The networks advocating of stereotypes of the gay community is not under fire because these shows make money for their advertisers who, in turn, sponsor them. [...]

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