These past few years, media literacy has become a serious issue in the United States. The world we are living in is constantly evolving, and the role of the media in informing society cannot be understated. Whether you like the stories which are being reported upon or not, the freedom of the press to report on them is vital to our democracy.
The struggle between the press and the establishment is as old as both of those institutions, but the recent spat over Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden’s leaks of top-secret government documents has accentuated the disconnect today. The documents which each of them leaked to the press detailed policies and procedures to which our government would rather have kept us ignorant, but we as a society can now have an honest and intelligent discussion about those issues now that they are out in the open. In the same way, the media reporting about other controversial issues opens up the floor for discussions which otherwise might not have happened.
In consuming the media with which we are bombarded daily, we need to keep in mind our role as consumers in the grand scheme of things. The television shows we watch, the advertisements we pass on the street and the news we read in the paper or online all attempt to influence the way we think about certain issues and groups.
Absorbing all of the media around us places us in a situation of having to decipher the intent and message of whoever created and sent it to us. At the end of the day, the actual meaning for society is determined by how society as a whole comes to understand it.
Intellectual curiosity pushes journalists along in their constant search for truth just like it pushes scientists to attempt to understand the mysteries of the universe.
As we all grapple with the realities which are reported, we are forced to come to a deeper understanding of ourselves and what our true beliefs are. Rather than seeking out what we want to read and hear, it is good to find alternative voices and listen to the other side.
Just like coverage of the Manning and Snowden leaks raised tempers and started heated discussions around the country, we have a unique opportunity at Pepperdine to engage in discussions which are pertinent to us. Reporting on controversial issues is important to ensure we can have the discussions that need to happen on issues such as on-campus security, treatment of staff members and the way Pepperdine markets itself and its athletic programs.
The Graphic is the voice of the students of Pepperdine. As the oldest student organization on campus, it has covered the best and the worst of our university. We want to be a part of the discussions that need to take place on campus, and — most importantly — we encourage you to join in with your opinion.
Follow Patrick Rear on Twitter: @pgrear92
As published in the Nov. 7 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.