Thursday, August 6, 2009

Activist Media?

A prop used during a news writing workshop by SJP alum and counselor Ruben Gaytan Lemus (Yale '12). Photo Credit: Brian Rokus '99.
By Keith Griffin (Philadelphia, PA)

This morning, Professor Eddie Glaude led an insightful discussion with the students of the Princeton Summer Journalism Program. His critique of the way in which the American media have become subject to "tabloidization" made me think about the role of the journalist.

As much as we teach that journalism is essential to a democratic society, so much of the coverage we see and read on important issues centers on the back-and-forth discussion of elites. Often times, these elites talk over the heads of the public, and relate the components of legislative issues to the masses in the form of inconsequential talking or rallying points. In some way, this reinforces a culture of elitism that makes the public "wary" of initiatives like that of President Barack Obama on health care. From what the masses hear, it seems like expanding coverage is too hard to do.

While objectivity is important in covering these hot-button issues, what steps can journalists take that brings the real meat of arguments on things like health care to the people? Do the media play too large of a role in passing down the bones that politicians throw them?

-- Griffin is a rising senior at Princeton, an opinion columnist for The Daily Princetonian and a 2005 alumnus of the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program. He was invited to return as a counselor this summer.

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