A man reads a paper at a "Love Still Trumps Hate" protest on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, on the Pentacrest. Emotions ran high on campus after Donald Trump was elected 45th president of the United States. (The Daily Iowan/Olivia Sun)

Jaimes: America’s comfort in lies is not media’s fault

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Americans need to slip away from the new cultural norm of blaming media outlets for information and start putting the responsibility on readers to correctly interpret and report the news they get from TV and social media.

By Marina Jaimes
marina-jaimes@uiowa.edu

“Trump went on trial today. He’s going to jail,” were the words from a classmate on the topic of current events. The trial being referred to was the indictment of President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul J. Manafort, on charges of money laundering, conspiracy, and tax dodges, which took place years before his work in the 2016 elections.

I explained the situation, noting that Trump could be found as a guilty person in the future but for now, the Manafort indictment currently mentions the president zero times. Unbothered, she continued to scroll through Twitter for news. She had no interest in learning, only in spreading truths she saw fit to tell. She was complacent with her ignorance.

She is not alone in her false beliefs, but she is every bit to blame for it. In my position, it would be easy to fault the “fake news” media, but I cannot give her that luxury. As a student at the UI, that young lady will go on to be a professional in the world and vote on decisions that will affect me, my children, and grandchildren. She is responsible to the rest of the country to denounce false claims, not create them.

Blaming the media has contributed to the trend of stripping individuals of personal responsibility. News corporations have every right to report what news they wish, and viewers have every right to not watch, read, or share on social media. As readers, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves in the politics that affect our everyday lives. We do not rely on the media to feed us, hydrate us, or partake in any other daily events — why do we rely on them to educate us on laws that will affect our lives so closely?

We rely on others because ignorance is easy. It is easier to be misinformed than to accept a belief that is opposing to your own. It is easier to say “that’s just what I heard” than opening a book or simply making the effort to tune in to both Fox News and CNN. In the case of my classmate, pleading ignorance was easier than downloading the Manafort indictment and searching Trump’s name with the “control F” option. Today, it is easier to crave bliss than knowledge.

Society is reaching an era in which no one is in a rush to take responsibility for their own actions. The regression of the modern college student is clearly evident on campuses around the country, but it isn’t causing as much of a concern as it should. It is important to hold the future of America to a standard and not excuse their behavior as the fault of the media. We are adults. We need to claim responsibility for the mistakes we make, even if it is as simple as misreading a headline. If we work to replace media illiteracy with responsibility and duty to report the truth, we can ensure that we are encouraging a future that holds themselves accountable in every aspect of their life.

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