In this week’s edition, What The Community Has To Say, Erin Gibson, USI Journalism instructor, talks about outrage to news stories that media outlets report on and how people’s reactions are called: “shoot the messenger”.
The reaction to a couple of local stories in recent months has been on my mind. In one case, a state audit revealed that a local township trustee who died last year had misused township funds. In another case, a prosecutor filed marijuana-related charges against a driver whose car was hit by a drunk driver killing a local teenager.
When local media outlets posted the stories on social media, the reader comments were scathing. The stories clearly stated that government officials made both decisions. Yet, some people blamed the news media and accused them of causing harm to the subjects of the stories and their families.
There’s a well-known phrase for this reaction: shoot the messenger.
When a prosecutor files charges or the State Board of Accounts makes an announcement the news media is obligated to report it. As citizens, taxpayers, and voters, you should know about the decisions people in power are making.
If you’re angry about either of these stories or similar stories, your comments would be much more effective in an email to the decision makers than expressed as outrage at the media. Each story met the most basic standards for reporting news.
We call that standard news judgment. News can be, and often is, upsetting. It has a nasty habit of presenting us with inconvenient truths – information we sometimes wish we didn’t know.
But the news is a reflection of reality. And in both of these cases, the local media got it right.
I’m Erin Gibson, and that’s what I have to say.