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The Influence Of The Media This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Every day we read newspapers and magazines. Every day we watch television news broadcasts and hear short news briefs on the radio. Every day we are influenced by the media.

The U.S. press has almost always delivered the facts, or at least what it perceives to be the facts, to the people. I do not dispute this.

But are we, the general public of the United States, seeing all sides of issues? Are we, the consumers of American journalism, always told about both sides of the dispute? Or does one side continually get the edge over another, getting more press coverage and a more positive attitude from the media?

The situation with the United States and Iraq is a prime example of American media favoring one side of an issue. The public always hears reports about how Iraq is "stubborn" and how the U.S. is doing its best to "resolve" the situation. The word "stubborn" connotes a negative attitude of obstinacy, while "resolve" means to bring about a positive, successful conclusion to a situation.

Immediately, we perceive the Iraqis to be our enemies, while we, the United States, are the righteous, the defenders of freedom, who have an obligation to expel the aggressors from innocent Kuwait, because we are a dominant force in the world. However, there are also people who believe that Saddam Hussein is on a crusade to unite all of the Arab countries , just as Bismarck did in Germany in the late 1800s. Rather than a sort of Hitler, some compare Hussein to Bismarck, who, although using ruthless tactics, united Germany and is today considered hero.

What Hussein stands to gain by the acquisition of Kuwait does not go unnoticed, but the point here is that perhaps much of what we see through the mediums of television and newspaper is colored. Whether or not the publishers of newspapers and the production managers of news stations believe that Hussein is on an evil mission, shouldn't those absorbing the news make that decision for themselves? Shouldn't they see a clip of Hussein's speeches without the colored commentary (unintended though it may be) of a biased journalist?

With less emphasis on the views our leaders have, and more emphasis on the views of others, it is still possible that the viewers or the readers will decide the U.S. must intervene. For the sake of President Bush and a united country that supports our soldiers, individuals must make that decision. But if we, the American public, hear only what our leaders think, and what those in power reiterate, we may well be led into a war with our eyes blindfolded,no better off than the Iraqi soldiers "we" think are being fooled by Hussein.

None of this is to say that the President is wrong and that Hussein is a savior, or vice versa. The point to be stressed is that we must examine all sides of an issue before we decide on anything. We must realize that there is always more to any issue than even our favorite journalists are willing to say.

American journalism has the most leeway in the world compared to other countries given its constitutional guarantees. Thus, it should give all views equal coverage, whether they be the view of the status quo or the minority. Residing in the United States means more than just listening to what is said, seeing what is shown, and reading what is printed. It means demanding more than the majority view and giving other views a chance to be understood. It means understanding freedom of speech. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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