Press on Parade

Press on Parade

Richard Carriker, Section Editor

In any given classroom across the United States, there are cyber bullies. With over half the students having been bullied and around a quarter of them being the bullies, it is an ongoing pandemic. From a simple text to a humiliating public post, this virus has spread worldwide and continues to get worse. Many professionals from numerous fields have come forth and spouted statistics about the prevalence of cyber bullying in high schools and why it occurs, but what about the journalists? Where do they fall on the chart? How much are they responsible for?

As journalists we are supposed to remain unbiased but that is near impossible as we all have our own opinions and, try as we might, it shows in our writing. This goes for all reporters, from a high school student to a writer for the New York Times, and this can never be eliminated, only limited. This fact brings up the perplexing question, how often do journalists either initiate, propagate or intensify cyber bullying with their articles?

Before I get too far, let us define what cyber bullying is. To put it simply, cyber bullying is a threat, derogatory remark or any other form of hurtful statements towards a person or group using any electronic medium, such as email, text, pictures, videos, chat rooms and social networking sites.

Given the definition above, we clearly see that journalists are cyber bullies by nature. We write articles that, at times, are controversial in nature and are found to cause mental distress among those we are writing about, for even if we try to stay unbiased, our opinions show through. From how we set up our facts to what we choose to include, these all alter how our articles are viewed. This is not to say that any good journalist will fabricated evidence, but rather that they can use specific choice elements to sway their reader towards the conclusion they desire.

In a recent article about an Oklahoma City cheerleader, the bullying was blatantly clear. Claire Crawford, the writer of the article “Is This Girl ‘Too Chunky’ To Be An OKC Cheerleader?” wrote about Kelsey Williams, an Oklahoma city cheerleader. The article states that “The Rockets looked terrible in game one, but some say they weren’t the only bad looking people on the court.” This is accompanied by a picture of Williams to the left leading to the thought that the statement is about her. To add insult to injury, there is an option to cast your vote in a mini poll located at the bottom of the article. While the author most likely never meant to harm Williams, it has become a large detriment on her life from bad publicity to hurt morale.

A constant display of cyber bullying is political pictures. Depending on what news site you visit you may find a different candidate being shown during election times or even pictures that are less than helpful to a person’s cause. A great example of this is the gun control controversy. If you Google the issue, you will find dozens upon dozens of articles written by both sides of the issue and they are filled with harsh words and pictures. Both sides bash each other for their views and use pictures to sway your mind. Some are kind to our president and politicians, others not so much, but all are there to be seen and interpreted.

This is not to say that all journalists are evil bullies, but rather that we can be part of the problem or the solution. Help us curve this pandemic, be an informed reader and stop those who wish to twist words from having the power. Form your own opinion from what you find.  Stay informed, stay aware and always double check the facts.