Who Watches Government and Media?

Story by Max Lennardt

According to a trio of media panelists, the media is the watchdog of the Government. But in today’s economic times the decline of newspapers and layoff of news reporters makes it tough for the media to be the government watchdog. Susan Tolchin, professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University; John Daley, reporter for Deseret News/KSL; and Matt Canham, Salt Lake Tribune Washington correspondent gave the message to students on who watches the government and the media.  “It is a relationship with tension in some times. We are the watch dog of the politics by asking tough questions, we confront them,” said Canham.
John Daley added: “There is a constant rise in government money, but there are less reporters than 10 years ago. But is more money always better, is it always legal, or is there maybe corruption involved? It will be hard to find out because there a fewer watchdogs than ever before.“
Tolchin said, she is really excited how it will turn out and she personally hopes for a better government. Also she stated, “that it is an interesting time to be in business.“
But who watches the media? How can the people trust what the media tells the readers about the government?
“Nobody checks facts, reporters make mistakes everyday. There are no check factors. It worries me. Blogs and Wikipedia have so many mistakes,” said Tolchin.
Because of the Internet it is easier to upload or post things. Everybody is a journalist today. People own cameras or have camera phones. According to the panelists, a journalist must be more careful than ever before.
“As a reporter you are a figure today. It is important that you check what you write because readers point out when you do something stupid, and they have ways to do that. It is so easy for people to find out your email address, “said Canham.
Because of the technology, more engagement of people is good and bad. But all three agree that there is no direct or official fact checker of the media. The only ones who can point things or mistakes out are the people.
“It is your responsibility. Once something is posted it is gospel and will be repeated by others. If it is not right, we need the help to point it out”, said Canham.
The audience judged the feedback on this topic positive.  Katie Andrus, a communication student at the University of Utah liked how they highlighted the role of journalism: “It was interesting to hear who the media is the watchdog over the government and how important is that the readers check facts on the stories.“
“They did a really good job of giving insight about how it is important as a journalist to report the right information to the readers”, said Kylee Mecham, a mass communication student.
More information about the event can be found at the Hinckley Institute of Politics webpage: http://www.hinckley.utah.edu.