Educate yourself before the media creates an opinion for you

By Cameron Bocanegra | Reporter

We define history by things that happened before and after events. I was born before 9/11, so I never knew what it was like before the more intense racial stigmas. My high school started doing more crisis drills after the Sandy Hook shooting. I started watching the news when the local station covered a student’s suicide. Breaking news changes the future and the public’s perspective daily.

All of this stems back to the news. Media coverage stretches from trending links on social media to CNN playing idly in every hospital lobby. Only 23 percent of Americans still read print newspapers, and in turn, our trust lies in what our modern media informs us of via the Internet, television and social media. On each platform, there are talking heads that relay with a weighted tongue what they consider newsworthy.

If we were to look back on the most popular media stories remembered vaguely in the past year, there would be a review of headlines regarding email scandals, presidential tweets, corrupt sports, North Korea drama, racism, Brexit and international natural disasters sprinkled on the endless list. All of these stories deserved coverage, as do all news that affect the masses, but most headlines that just report the facts without blood, sweat and tears do not become running headlines at all.

We often stare slack-jawed with one hand over our heart at an emotional victim on the local news channel because we are so personally amazed by what the world is capable of committing and enduring. When Hurricane Harvey was in full swing, other stories were swept under the rug because the public was rightfully distracted. During the same week, the majority of senators approved a $700 billion military budget, Cohen denied collusion with Moscow regarding the President Trump campaign, Sebastian Gorka left the White House and Joe Arpaio was pardoned for violating a judge’s order during a racial profiling case. All of these topics got their 10 seconds on the 6 p.m. news and then next 10 were dedicated to a riot downtown.

While we fight over and critique every viral tweet of President Trump, lawmakers are in our blind spot making decisions that affect us –– the people. Media continues to manipulate us out of the control of our own attention. Sixty five percent of American voters believe that the mainstream press contains fake news, so why does this even matter if the reports may be false? We can doubt the complete authenticity of a story in the press all we want, but we are still watching and paying attention to what the media is defining as important. We watch, listen, read, click the link and we even Google the facts if we have a few extra seconds and care enough. We have no choice. We are not on the ground in Afghanistan or in the streets during a public shooting. We can do nothing except keep our eyes open and try our best to educate ourselves before we let the media decide what is most valid.