To Monitor the Monitors

Story by Alex Goff

On Friday, Oct. 28th, a group of people gathered to hear opinions on how the media are considered the watch dogs for the government and the people the watch dogs for the media.

The panelists who spoke on the subject included John Daley, a reporter from KSL-TV.  He said that, “citizen involvement is plus because we do it for the readers.”  Daley was referring to the relationship between the media and the public, specifically how he thinks it’s the communities’ responsibility to inform themselves of what’s happening in the nation.

In regards to the panelists’ talk, Katie Christiensen said, “I liked how Susan said that we are the watch dogs of the media and it’s our job to get any vital information because it’s our responsibility as journalists.”

“Who watches the media?”  This was quoted from another member of the panel, Susan Tolchin.  It seemed that she was mostly focused on getting to the truth behind the messages that is received from the media. “Nobody is checking the facts, anyone can write an opinion,” she said.

Journalism student, Amy Murakami said that she barely checks her sources for accuracy, “it just never occurs to me that they could be creating a story from false accounts or facts.  I guess since it’s publicized I thought I could trust the source.””

The overall message conveyed by the panel was that the community needs to be responsible for the media, and it’s also their job to keep themselves informed about the now.  Consumers rely on the media just as much as the media rely on consumers.  It’s a balanced relationship and a win-win one as well.  The people need an informant and the informant needs people to pay for their message.

Another message, expressed mostly by panelist Matt Canham, was to challenge the media and make them accountable for what they write.  “As a consumer it is your responsibility to point out errors because they become incorrect facts,” he said.

The general consensus that appeared to be reached by the panel about the media was that they have a positive effect on the nation.  It was implied that there would be no other way of knowing what was going on in the world without help from journalists or reporters.

Whitney Smith, a political science major, stated, “as a political science student, this event was great insight as to how the media helps the government.  Sometimes the media can fall short and give information that may not seem as important, but I become more aware of our government issues because of our media and their ability to report.”

It’s clear that the population depends on news, whether it be from the newspaper or television.  However, the important part is that the facts get straightened out and the public holds the media accountable for what is being reported.  It’s the community’s obligation to know the truth about what’s going on, not just some reporters or journalists account of what’s happening but to see it from more than one angle.

“It is important to read the other sides views, which is a great way to keep from bias,” Tolchin said.

The group of people who gathered to hear these panelists speak have left with a greater understanding of what it means to monitor the media and how to challenge what they report as facts.