When I first heard of the encounter between Nick Sandmann and Nathan Phillips, I was heavily inclined to NOT weigh in on the situation. First off, no matter what happened, it was a localized event with no impact on anything. It doesn’t matter who you believe, or who was even right, because it means nothing to the American political system, or to you in any sort of way. It’s a problem for the individuals involved to figure out, and that’s about it.
Yet the story went crazy, in large part because of social media. A video was taken with a cell phone, it went viral, so news agencies picked it up and ran with it. It’s a problem that news agencies haven’t quite figured out how to handle yet.
As a news agency, when are presented with a video, that has no context or substance, and you choose to highlight it as a legitimate news story simply because people are watching it, you are bound to run into problems. Of course, if you ignore the video, you are bound to become irrelevant.
So, what should they do? They should present the video as news and allow viewers to make their own decisions on it. The last thing they should be doing is pushing a narrative, and yet that’s exactly what almost every news agency did.
And while I completely disagree with President Donald Trump’s assessment that the media is “the enemy of the people”, it’s mishandled situations like this that give him and his supporters a ton of ammunition.
Mainstream media companies need to do a better job at presenting stories like this in an unbiased manner until all the facts come in. Even then they need to simply present the facts to the public and let them make up their minds about the situations.
That kind of journalism that is essential in a democratic nation. Journalism isn’t the “enemy of the people”, it’s the only thing that keeps society working. However, when it’s handled so horribly wrong it hurts democracy by hurting the image of the media.
Trump’s comments are just a symptom of the problem at hand, and until you fix the root of the problem, you can expect the symptoms to get worse.