Imagine this:

Life is normal. Things are as they always have been. Nothing is out of the ordinary.

One day, you go to work and are told a coworker was taken to the hospital the night prior. No one knows why, but your coworker doesn’t return.

Days later, your favorite barista at the coffee shop you visit is absent. When you ask on her behalf, you’re told no one knows where she is.

Life goes on. For you, life is normal.

Life is normal until a week later. You’re about to dive into a home-cooked meal with your family when the phone rings. When you pick up the phone, you are answered with sobbing.

Your grandmother has died. She was admitted to the hospital earlier that day after feeling ill. She died due to an unknown virus.

As time moves forward and you try to mend your grieving wounds, you notice more and more people disappearing from your regular routine.

You’re scared; You’re confused.

But most importantly, you’re uninformed.

You know what you just imagined? A world where you are individually responsible for receiving information. A world without journalism.

I think a lot of journalists are feeling the way I am right now but aren’t speaking up, so I will for them. Please stop blaming “the media.”

I have been back in my hometown since March 13. I’ve been writing at least two news stories a week since then. I didn’t get a spring break. I’ve yet to have a break since this all began. But I’m not complaining about that, because my job as a journalist is to report on the news. Which, if you haven’t noticed, is constantly updating.

However, I feel like the entire journalism industry has been thrown under the bus lately and I’m not entirely sure why.

Consumers, especially those who frequent social media, often blame “the media” for the clickbait news they choose to see and read. In today’s climate specifically, social media users are upset at “the media” for clogging their feeds with COVID-19 coverage. They “just wish things could go back to normal.”

Well, news flash (no pun intended), I’m probably more tired of writing about COVID-19 than they are of reading about it.

It’s not that I’m just tired though because that’s not enough for me to write a column. It’s that I’m confused about consumer expectations of the journalism industry and what consumers mean when they say “the media.”

Expectations

People are upset their feeds are full of articles about the coronavirus, but do they just want the coverage to stop?

What a sight, right? Once again, the land of funny cat videos return!

But what would happen to COVID-19 if the coverage stopped? It wouldn’t disappear. It wouldn’t go away. Thousands of people would still die everyday.

Do we need to reimagine the scenario where you live in a scary, dark and uninformed society?

If the journalism industry wasn’t reporting about COVID-19, consumers would be complaining equally about how they are not being properly informed.

So, what are we supposed to do? How is the entire journalism industry supposed to cover a global pandemic in a way consumers can have a nice mix of content on their social media feeds?

It’s impossible.

Sit back and consider just how many news publications there are across the globe.

As a journalist myself, I find it almost wrong to cover anything unrelated to COVID-19 because I feel as if it is my responsibility to keep readers properly informed about what is going on in the world right now. I bet almost all, if not all, journalists feel the same way. 

So, that’s millions of publications feeling the responsibility to cover COVID-19 for their readers. That is an overwhelming amount of the same type of content, which can flood social media feeds.

Remember, the local, national and international news outlets you follow are just trying to keep you informed.

Consider cleaning up your social media feeds if you are unhappy with them. Follow reputable news sources you trust, unfriend long-lost acquaintances who share questionable content regularly and please, stop blaming “the media.”

“The media”

Speaking of the handsome devil, or devils perhaps, who is “the media”?

When consumers reference “the media,” I assume they are referring to the journalism industry, as the pronoun is usually associated with news coverage.

However, any entry-level media course will educate you that media are communication outlets used to store and deliver information. Media are newspapers, broadcasting, photographs, etc. 

Media is not the journalism industry itself, but rather the media are outlets which the journalism industry utilize to distribute information.

There’s a big difference.

Maybe I’m taking a stab in the dark here, but I think people say things like, “Oh, the media is completely blowing this out of proportion,” or (my favorite), “You just can’t trust the media anymore,” because they don’t know where to point the finger at.

I would much rather people argue about specific news outlets than blaming the entire journalism industry.

Who is blowing it out of proportion? Who can’t you trust? The entire journalism industry? Well, that seems a bit extreme, don’t you think?

I can ensure you, the entire industry is not spoon feeding you lies. 

I’m going to be honest, I do take these accusations personally, especially when I hear or see my family and friends blaming “the media” for corrupting their view of the world.

I, along with so many other journalists at The Standard and across the globe, are working hard to tell meaningful, trustworthy stories during this time. 

The next time you start writing out a Facebook post, complaining about the COVID-19 coverage on your timeline, or telling someone you are tired of how “the media” is handling the current situation, think about a world without journalism, a world without honesty and information.

Please, stop blaming the journalism industry because you’d miss us if we were gone.