Some media outlets have found themselves in the crosshairs of public scandal following serious accusations of spreading false information, defamation lawsuits, and controversial comments by commentators. How damaged is the credibility of the media?
Fox News reached an agreement on April 18 to pay Dominion Voting Systems more than $787 million for defamation, acknowledging that some of its reporting on the 2020 elections was not accurate. This reporting allowed former President Donald Trump’s team to amplify their false claims of voter fraud. A week later, the controversial host of that network’s highest-rated show, Tucker Carlson, was fired after accusations he has spread conspiracy theories. The same day, CNN fired host Don Lemon, who in the past has been accused of making sexist comments.
Although the First Amendment to the Constitution enshrines a free press as an essential element of our democracy, it is also true that the credibility of some national media has been questioned in recent years, due to the increase in misinformation, sensationalism, and partisan bias. This is particularly true for the Latino community, which has historically been marginalized and underrepresented in these media outlets.
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Accountability and stereotypes
Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News, as well as another pending lawsuit by Smartmatic, finally put a stop to a series of conspiracy theories spread by the news network, which paid a hefty price for its irresponsible handling of unsubstantiated information that it published. But there is still a lot of improvement to be made.
In addition to spreading conspiracy theories, the Fox News network, and in particular anchor Tucker Carlson, have promoted anti-immigrant ideas that are unsupported by reality, especially during the Trump Administration. Their aim was to perpetuate unjustified fear against immigrants, as that boosted their ratings. This practice has continued for many years without repercussions for the network.
Journalists must be held accountable for their reporting, and the media must have mechanisms in place to ensure that their reporting is accurate, fair, and transparent. This accountability is particularly important for the Latino community, who is often portrayed in a negative light in the national media.
This lack of accountability has undermined public trust in the media. In October 2022, Pew Research Center published a survey that said half of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 say that they have some or a lot of confidence in the information they obtain on social networks. This is slightly less than the 56% who say the same about their confidence in information from national news organizations. However, 62% said they trust information from local media.
Seeking to restore credibility
One way to ensure media accountability is to increase diversity in newsrooms. Newsrooms that reflect the communities they serve are more likely to cover topics that are relevant to those communities.
At La Noticia, we passionately believe in this principle, which is why we have established a series of partnerships with other local news organizations (such as WFAE, WFDD, CJC, RFA). This allows us to contribute our community’s perspective within the ecosystem of North Carolina’s media.
As we celebrate 26 years at La Noticia this April, we continue with our mission of producing quality journalism, without sensationalism and without exaggeration. Our objective is to provide a window that reflects the concerns and voices of our community, and to do so in a responsible manner.