What’s the point in reading the news anyways?

Not so funny, guise

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Yesterday on Facebook, a friend shared a link to an article titled “The Rape of Men,” which I then passed on to a couple of my housemates. After reading the article and discussing it, we were undeniably sad for the rest of the night.

Although each year has its low points, this past year seems to have been filled with many tragic news stories. From the consecutive shootings all over the nation to the Boston Marathon bombing and, most recently, the revolutions going on in Egypt and Turkey, I’ve come to realize that I have consumed more news this year than ever before.

Sure, there have been a few positive effects of reading the news more, but I’m often plagued with the negative effects. For example, after the Boston bombing, Saudi Arabian Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi and a Moroccan student were wrongly accused by the media, evidenced by the New York Post’s front page the Thursday following the bombing. Not only did the media’s role drastically affect the lives of these two young men, but the media fed the nation’s people a terrible lie by reporting too quickly making themselves unreliable in the most serious of times.

CNN has also caused distress the past couple of weeks. Their representation of the June 30 Egyptian revolution as a “military coup” has put them under severe criticism by Egyptians. It is not the fear that the United States will stop aid to Egypt that causes anger toward this national occurrence being dubbed a “military coup” — it’s the fact that this title refuses to acknowledge the power of the people who have risen up against their government in unity and reclaimed their land. The military was a liaison between the people and the government, working only to satisfy the desire of the people. Egyptians have outwardly condemned CNN by creating a Facebook group called “CNN Supports Terrorism” and have caused #CNN_STOP_Lying_About_Egypt to trend.

When reading a news article, there is an expectation that the article will stay focused on the core of the story. That news stations will spend their time covering the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing instead of wasting time backtracking as they cover themselves for misinforming readers. That one of the world’s largest news organizations with a leading international news channel would make the effort to report correctly on a major international story without being swayed to report differently.

All the time I’ve spent arguing over whether or not the Egyptian revolution was a indeed a military coup even though that isn’t even the point of the revolution has made me think about the ramifications of news stories. Regarding the article concerning the rape of men in Uganda, I wonder what the point is in getting worked up over it if there is nothing I can do to influence the situation anyway.

Is it worth it getting angry over CNN? Is there any value in reading about world atrocities when they seem so other-worldly?

When news is quality investigative journalism, it has the ability to work with the people instead of being an opposing force. It has the power to ignite a spark in an individual, causing that person to pursue a cause that he or she never would have before. It has the potential to grant freedom to people, as Lara Stemple was able to do for men in Uganda through her University of California’s Health and Human Rights Law Project. It has the audacity to call out illegal actions and save lives, just as Stephanie Sinclair was able to do for many child brides when she investigated and raised awareness of child marriages, which are outlawed in many countries and forbidden by international agreements.

There is a point to reading the news. It just needs to be done with caution. It has to be done with the awareness of the fact that not everything is reported with accuracy, that we are not all personally responsible in aiding every cause and that it’s all right to take a break and not read every once in a while — because it can become burdensome.

News sometimes misleads, and it is often overwhelming, considering it informs us about occurrences that we often have no control over. Despite the negative, I believe it’s worth it.

Image source: dcmetroblogger via Creative Commons

Monica Mikhail contemplates the truth of the matter in her weekly blog. Contact Monica Mikhail at [email protected].