Let me be clear: The media is NOT the enemy

Mr. Guyette, Adviser

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I can’t exactly say that my media career began as a 12-year-old when I started delivering the Green Bay Press-Gazette. (Bart Starr’s paperboy!)

Maybe it began four years later, in 1986, when the P-G hired me to work as a high school sports score taker on weekend nights. I was just a kid, though, trying to make some money and had no perspective whatsoever on the world.

At minimum, it’s been 30 years, as I began writing for my college newspaper the day I stepped on campus.

Forgive me, then, if I get a bit rankled by the anti-media attacks that, led by our President, have become so prevalent in our public discourse.

Frankly, I have had enough. Here’s why.

Those who blame their problems on the media are …

1.. Egotistical. By blaming the media, what a person is really saying is this: “I see the bias, but other people aren’t as smart as I am. Therefore, the media will be able to fool them. I worry that all of those less-intelligent people will not be able to find the truth like I can.”

2.. Short-sighted. At least 95 percent of the people who work in the media have nothing to do with state or national politics.

They are mostly people making an average living who write about people and events in their community. They don’t root for sports teams, political parties, or horrible tragedies. Instead, they yearn for stories that their readers will find interesting and valuable.

Sure, some media members might be in the business to promote a political agenda, but that number is quite small in the broader context.

3.. Lazy. Blaming the media is the easy, easy, easy way out. Because the “media” is such an all-encompassing term, people can throw out careless accusations that don’t require a give-and-take of ideas.

I have been a public school teacher long enough to have witnessed cycles of public discourse that blame us for society’s ills. Police officers, fast-food restaurants and ethnic minorities are also easy targets for the simple-minded.

We live in a highly complex world in which problems are multi-faceted and contain lots of gray area. It’s real work to be part of the solution, and not everyone wants to dig in.  

4.. Lacking understanding. The political media’s role is to be adversarial to the government, whether it’s local, state or national. Public officials from both parties have a long history of trying to hide documents about what they are doing and how they are spending their money.

Without reporters digging for this information, school boards, mayors, governors, and lawmakers at every level would be free to spend as they pleased without accountability.

As the adviser of the De Pere HS student newspaper, I know that our job is not to promote the agenda of the administration. Luckily for me, every principal I have had here understands that.

5.. Needing constant validation. The advent of cable TV and the Internet has allowed people from both sides of the political spectrum to create content to persuade.

Everyone with access to television, radio, and the web can find ideas and opinions matching their own 24/7/365. Freedom of the press allows us to see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear whenever we want.

If a media organization doesn’t focus on what you want it to, change the channel. Find something else. Ignore it. Understand the fact that not everyone sees the world the same way you do. This idea cycles back to No. 1, where media blamers want everyone else to see, hear and understand on the their level.

Unfortunately, my guess is that these attacks on the media will not be ending anytime soon.

Not for another two years, at least.

I am eternally optimistic, though. I hope to put in another 30 years.

Mr. Guyette is in his 18th year as editor of the Crimson Aviator.