Saluting the President's Men

A few weekends ago I plopped down on my couch and watched the 1976 film "All the President's Men." Based on the book of the same title, the movie follows two Washington Post reporters who slowly unravel the Watergate scandal. Starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein respectively, the movie garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Film.

The plot of the movie reminded me of the TV show 24: political intrigue, mass cover-ups, secret informants, and a scandal that even reached the president himself. What's amazing to me is that this all really happened---it's not a story concocted by Hollywood writers, but actual historical events. And what's even more amazing is that the entire Watergate scandal would have remained a secret if it were not for a pair for tenacious reporters who refused to back down from their story.

In the past year I've become really interested by the role of the media in our society. On one hand I see the enormous good that comes from honest investigative reporting. The press informs the public of what's happening in the world; it sheds light on events that we, the people, have no access to. I especially laud the media for its continuiing coverage of Darfur and the atrocities that occur there.

But on the other hand, I see the growing sensationalism of the media. I know sensationalism has always been a problem in newspapers and magazines, but I think it's reaching new levels on television. I really don't understand why CNN and MSNBC describe Britney Spears' divorce as "BREAKING NEWS" or why Fox News was created specifically for a conservative base. Shouldn't news channels focus on...the news? And shouldn't news channels be created without an agenda? Some would argue that all news is biased in some way and I will agree to that. But at the same time, all media venues should at least try to be as non-biased as possible. Perhaps I am being idealistic, but then again idealism isn't a bad thing.

So, sure, there are a lot of downsides to any type of media. There are biases and hidden agendas and what-not. But there are also honest and worthy news sources that strive to inform their readership to the happenings of the world around them without a significant bias towards one side or the other. I'm just grateful that I live in a country where the freedom of the press exists and where it is celebrated. We can gripe and complain about the radical New York Times or the ultra-conservative Fox News Network, but at least we have news outlets to choose from. I mean, compared to China, we're doing really well.