This past weekend, Norway witnessed a heinous act of terror resulting in the deaths of 68 people. The bomb attack and shooting spree brought upon the finger pointing from journalists and news networks at Muslim elements
within Norway’s borders. As it turned out, the man responsible was a native son, a right wing supporter who opposed Muslim immigration and multiculturalism within Norway.
And herein lies the issue.
The US has already undergone a national debate over the impact of political rhetoric following Rep. King’s hearings and the shooting at Rep. Gifford’s town hall in Arizona. Yet this debate did not extend itself to those reporting the news to the American public. Rather than actual reporting of the facts, the US news climate has become one of editorials and entertainment. And as a result, shaped the views of those paying attention to them.
What happened to investigative journalism? Journalistic integrity that involved verifying facts and sources before reporting? And when did sensationalism become the norm?
Following the arrest of Breivik, the amount of backtracking that took place from our journalistic community was appalling. Yet, the retractions and pseudo-apologies were colored with continued characterizations of the attacks resembling that of Muslim attacks across the globe and the Muslim element is still something to be feared. As if they were justified in reporting false news. Journalists found nothing wrong with their statements such as, Erick Erickson of CNN, who tweeted his initial reaction with “Terrorist bombing in Oslo. I bet you it was not Lutherans who did it.” Then there was Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post who reported that “there is a specific jihadist connection here”.
It’s about time we held our journalists responsible for their part in this climate of misinformation and suspicion. No longer should the general public be content with news networks and publications too busy trying to win ratings and readers rather than performing their actual job of informing the public. And just informing, not shaping their opinion. No editorials, no opinion pieces, just the facts.
Until then, I’ll keep looking to foreign news agencies who take their responsibility a lot more seriously as a source of information than their US counterparts for my news fix.