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Kaitlin Bruce

The media has always been the first thing we turn to in times of catastrophe and celebration, but it is important to stop and ask, “Is this really the truth?”

The obligation of a journalist is to inform people, which is a great privilege.  Journalists have the tools to educate people, but responsibility does not always come with that power.

Instances of negligence like Sandy Hook where the alleged perpetrator’s brother, Ryan Lanza, was pinned as the shooter in the first few hours can easily be avoided by checking facts before reporting them.

America was stuck in a tug of war between information. Questions of whether the mother worked for the school and how many guns did he actually have and how did he access the schoole questions went unanswered for hours in the sloppy, wall-to-wall news coverage.

If the media would take the time to make sure they are correctly stating information instead of immediately shoving anything that could gain them more ratings than the other stations out there, it would make them more credible and much less destructive.

Another occurrence was the Boston Marathon bombing. Many websites and news stations such as CNN were in such a rush to name a suspect, they wrongly accused Brown University student Sunil Tripathi of being one of the suspects.

Tripathi’s body was found in the Providence river a few weeks later.

The media needs to be more careful – their influence is far-reaching and can turn alleged suspects and persons of interest into victims of libelous and slanderous damages.

It is this type of sloppy coverage that turns what could be thought-provoking, good journalism into nothing more than a story in People Magazine. It’s gossip and hearsay – two hallmarks of poor journalism.

Not only is slander and misleading information a common occurrence in the rush to get news to the table, but the ability to control the public’s opinion and education on the topic is a hefty problem.

The media really does control what the public hears and doesn’t hear. They can pick and choose what information to cover, and putting a spin on a story can influence nations and their policy. This is not okay, and there’s really not much we can do about it.

There are so many ways to get the information we need in times of trouble – just pick up that smartphone and tap away. You can pick any form of media Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, the news – It’s all there for you to access. The important thing to remember is that these outlets can be biased.

Know your sources. Know where your information is coming from and if you don’t know, don’t go out there putting information on all of your social sites for all to hear. Educating people is serious, and you’re not going to add anything useful if you heard it from Lisa who read something on Twitter.

The most important thing to take away from the news is the bare bones. Don’t let anyone sway your opinion; find a site you trust and stick with it. There is biased coverage everywhere and, if they abuse the power they have, then it obviously cannot be trusted.

Don’t be gullible – be informed,