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Blog 4: Role of journalists surrounding a crisis

During a war, I think journalists should challenge the president or our country’s military leaders. For our country to engage in something as big and costly as war, the administration needs the most scrutiny the press can give it. However, scrutiny is not necessarily a bad thing, because the American people deserve to ask questions about major government decisions that will affect their lives. It is the people’s right to know what is going on.

In Bill Moyers “Buying the War” report, the role of the journalist during the September 11 terrorist attacks is questioned. Journalists had every right to challenge the administration during this particular period of crisis.

During the time between the September 11 attacks and the government’s decision to engage in war, there was a great deal of stories that were favored in newspapers that were acceptable to mainstream opinion. Those who ‘swam upstream’ were stigmatized as ‘bad Americans’ because the government was expected to be straight with the people.

Most people rely on the journalists to tell them about what is going on in the world, however, often times, the mainstream media is not telling the American people entirely what they need to know. It is the journalists job to connect-the-dots between the facts and double check the sources of the information.

For example, during the initial Iraq war dilemma, Vice President Cheney was allowed to talk about the aluminum tubes that were being used for atomic bombs on the news because it had leaked earlier that morning in the paper. However, someone had failed to check where that information initially came from.

There is a circular path involving someone in the administration planting information to the New York Times, then the Vice President, or someone else in the administration, quotes it on the televised news later that same day. The press needs to interject somewhere in this process. It is the journalists’ job to root out defectors.

In addition, if journalists rely too much on top level sources, like the government, then they may lose out on critical information. Where can the sources of information be traced back to? the goverment? the White House? an outside source? The media needs to verify more with the information they publish and not just run a story right away.

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