Al Jazeera America has published a good opinion piece by Dan Froomkin in which he discusses the failure of mainstream media to report on the shutdown of the US government. Froomkin argues that his fellow colleges have misled the public on the true cause of the shutdown and that US mainstream media has failed to hold the responsible parties accountable.
"...journalists have been suckered into embracing "balance" and "neutrality" at all costs, and the consequences of their choice in an era of political extremism will only get worse and worse."
I believe Froomkin is right when he argues that this is a failure for journalism and democracy. But it’s not just about the recent shutdown of the US government. The same reasoning can be applied to the climate change crisis, where the media keeps portraying it as a debate – even though the deniers have nothing but lies and misinformation to back up their claims with. Froomkin’s reasoning here can also be applied to the failure of Western media, in general, to combat the dangerous development of extreme right-wing parties in Europe.
With that said, I do think that Froomkin puts too much blame and responsibilities on the individual journalist. After all, a journalist can only do so much. At the end of the day it’s the corporations that run today’s global news organizations that sets the agenda and decides how and which stories get reported (check out: The mass media and our environment).