When you hear the term media outlet, the first couple of things you probably think about are various news stations such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, The Guardian, etc. These responses are all correct in the sense that they are all media outlets, but what actually is a media outlet? Yeah sure they all cover the news (obviously), but let’s take a step back for a second and analyze media outlets with a deeper meaning. What is the purpose behind the outlet? Is it to inform the general public? Could it be to pursued them instead? What is the outlet’s style? What kind of stories do they cover? What are the individual qualities of a media outlet that make it unique, special, or interesting? These are the kinds of questions and thoughts that should pop into your head when you hear the term media outlet. Over the past week I have analyzed several different media outlets, more specifically Truth-out.org and in this article I’m going to try and answer said questions in hopes of providing a more thorough look into today’s media.
Before I started on this project I had never heard of the website Truth-out. When I first heard the name I immediately thought that there would be a large collection of conspiracy theorists spewing non-sense about how jet fuel can’t melt steel beams and about how the 1969 Apollo moon landings never occurred and that it was all a hoax created by the U.S. government. I was completely wrong. Upon visiting the website for the first time I was presently surprised. I saw none of the above. What I did see was what looked to be a legitimate news source with a good design layout, real stories, and real, credited journalists.
I would describe Truth-out as a progressive media outlet whose main purpose is to inform the public about a lot of political issues, but in a “think outside of the box” manner, meaning there are a lot of individual writers expressing their own opinions and their different ways of thinking as opposed to big name journalists working for a large company who are being told what to report, when to report, and how to report it.
A good example of what I mean by writers expressing their individual opinions can be found here (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32593-over-270-refugees-dead-in-one-day-why-is-the-us-doing-nothing). The article is titled “More Than 270 Refugees Dead in One Day; Why is the U.S. doing nothing?”. The article discusses the recent outbreak of Middle Eastern refugees fleeing to Europe and the deaths surrounding 71 Syrians who all died in a van while they were attempting to seek better life elsewhere. The author of the article, Judy Molland, goes on to make assumptions saying “These Syrians must have been facing truly horrific situations to allow themselves to be packed into this small space and driven away, in total darkness.” She tries to appeal to the reader’s emotions instead of just stating the facts and letting the reader draw his or her own conclusions. The piece goes on to discuss how many refugees there are and how it’s a global crisis, but the interesting part is at the end. It talks about why the United States and the United Kingdom should be doing more than they are and attempts to make the countries look bad. “Lets remember that there are 3,000 asylum seekers waiting in Calais, hoping to make it to England, as compared to 300,000 that have entered Europe so far this year.” Molland says regarding UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent remarks about why Syrians want to come to Britain. Additionally, at the end of the article she writes “It is horrific that people are suffocating and drowning in their quest to reach safety. The U.S. and UK need to step up.”
Personally I am not a fan of this style of opinionated writing. I would much rather read an article that just tells me the facts and the important information that I should know as opposed to the author trying to persuade me to feel a certain type of way (typically the way that they feel themselves).
Let’s take a second to compare Truth-out with one of the most well known news sources, CNN.com. CNN covers a lot more topics than Truth-out including domestic U.S. news, world news, politics, health, science, and entertainment where as Truth-out is mainly focused on political issues and news, both foreign and domestic. Take a look at some of CNN’s headlines from the day of August 31, 2015- “200 residents of Iraq town detained by ISIS”, “Sharapova dealt crushing blow on eve of U.S. Open”, “DA: Shooter that killed Texas cop unleashed 15 shots at close range”, and “Fiat-Chrysler boss pushes a General Motors merger”. There are examples of foreign affairs, sports, business, and cop-civilian violence. Also in terms of writing style CNN delivers facts. They don’t flood the article with opinions like Truth-out does.
One of the main reasons for this is the fact that CNN.com is a business. Their primary goal is to make money. In order for them to maximize their revenue they have appeal to as large of a population as they can. Truth-out is a nonprofit organization. This means that they aren’t thinking about what stories will increase their ratings and page views. They can offer their opinion more freely because poor or unpopular ones won’t decrease their revenue.
Overall during the past week of analyzing Truth-out and other media outlets, I’ve learned a lot about what drives the media, the differences between media, styles and coverage, and why certain media outlets are the way they are. Certain websites like Truth-out are more open to freely expressing themselves and delivering opinions while other media outlets might deliver more factual information as well as a broader range of stories. There are several factors that contribute to this, but I think the main thing that we can take away is that the big media conglomerates are money driven (at least in the United States). Capitalism is all about making a profit and with the money you make, you put that capital back into the company in order to grow and expand, which leads to more funds. In my opinion the type of media that we see today would be very different if money and media were not tied together. In conclusion, I challenge you to open your mind about the media. The next time you watch the news or read an article online, think about why the post was made? Was it made to inform you? Perhaps persuade you? What are the qualities of that media outlet? I think if you can answer these questions than you will be enlightened and a more knowledgeable individual.