The Reliability of the Media

About this essay

At the center of the problem with the reliability of the media is the fact that people are creatures who are traditionally driven by belief as opposed to any real desire to learn the truth. In other words, people want to hear what they want to hear and the media plays to that desire.

In a radio interview, noted magician and skeptic James Randi showed in great detail how most “psychics” are con artists whose tricks are easily debunked and replicated.

Randi noted that despite the fact that personally explained to CNN’s Larry King exactly how a noted psychic committed her frauds, King has repeatedly brought the psychic on his program, never debunked her, and had repeatedly played along with his audience asking “how does she do that?” This is, of course, because the psychic draws ratings for King’s program and King is not going to kill off a guest who pulls in an audience.

Randi then asked the host of the radio program “How then can you be sure of the validity of anything that is seen on CNN?” The inference of this is obvious: the integrity of the news is questionable as the ‘curse’ of telling an audience what they want to hear is always present.

Get quality help now
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Business

star star star star 4.9 (247)

“ Rhizman is absolutely amazing at what he does . I highly recommend him if you need an assignment done ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

In today’s media landscape, traditional mass media combined with the great expansion of new media devices provide hundreds of different distribution channels where people can receive their news. That is, if a person has an opinion, there is a channel that they may be able to turn to in order to have their opinion re-enforced.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

No matter how much we may try to ignore it, human communication always takes place in a context, through a medium, and among individuals and groups who are situated historically, politically, economically, and socially. This state of affairs is  neither bad nor good. It simply is. Bias is a small word that identifies the collective influences of the entire context of a message. (Rhetorica)

A classic example of how this is evident is found in television and radio discussion of politics. When it comes to political affiliations, people decide where their allegiance exists (liberal or conservative) and then seek news, opinion and analysis designed to marginalize the opposition while presenting a positive image of the political ideologies in which they prescribe. Now, what is or is not true is hardly the issue. The issue is seeing the “team” presented in glowing terms while condemning the “opposition.”

If you are used to hearing only negative, slanted reporting about the Bush administration, and a reporter delivers a fact that is not negative, you will not hear it as a fact but as supporting the side you were taught to disdain. More specifically, the networks and also CNN constantly keep up a barrage of mayhem from the Iraq war. Fox News also reports the car bombs and killings, but from Fox we also hear the positive side of our involvement in Iraq. We see the Iraqis who do view the US as liberators instead of only those who see the US as occupiers. (Grimes)

To further capitalize on this, many media outlets have devolved into insult humor designed to turn political debate into a vicious stand up comic routine. Again, the reason for this is because that is what the audience wants to see and if what the audience wants is not delivered, the audience will tune out. This result in lower ratings and lower ratings would heavily cut into advertising revenue; a media company that can not generate revenue simply can not survive. Therein lay the problem with the reliability of the media: the media must base all its decisions on earnings.

There is an incredibly naïve belief that the media is unbiased and designed to provide the humanist duty of presenting the populace with information. This ignores that very important necessity of drawing high earnings from radio, television and print advertising revenue and the need to draw audiences.

One might hypothesize instead that reporters respond to the cues of those who pay their salaries and mask their own ideological dispositions.  Another explanation would hold that norms of journalism, including `objectivity’ and `balance’ blunt whatever biases exist. (Groseclose)

In other words, the journalists are employees of a company and have a certain indebtedness to the company’s bottom line. This does not necessarily mean that the journalists and in collusion with the financiers nor does it mean that the financiers directly interfere with the journalist’s reporting. What is does mean is that the financiers set a tone the reporters are relegated to follow in regards to the specific target demographic that the news is directed towards.

Does this mean that the media is deliberately deceptive in its presentation? Not necessarily. What it does mean is that the media is a profit driven business that is highly competitive and not a charity or a nationalized news agency. As such, it is important to understand that the profit motive can undermine the reliability of the media and that watching the news with a critical and skeptical eye is important. In other words, verify what the media presents and do not accept it exclusively on face value.


Grimes, Linda Sue. 2006. “Media Bias” 10 December 2006. Bella Online.


Groseclose, Timothy. September 2003. “A Measure of Media Bias.”

            10 December 2006. URL

Media. 6 December 2006. Media/Political Bias. The Rhetorica Group.

10 December 2006 URL

Cite this page

The Reliability of the Media. (2017, Mar 24). Retrieved from

The Reliability of the Media
Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment