“With great power, comes great responsibility”

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From Robert  J. Haiman’s Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists:

“There’s a case to be made that while the press has no constitutional duty to be fair, there is a societal obligation to do so. The press is like no other industry in American society. Its importance is acknowledged in the Constitution and its liberty is part of our nation’s foundation. Doesn’t the press have a duty to live up to its special role in our democracy?” (72)

 

I’m going to take a page out of Angela’s book with this blog and make a movie reference.  When I read the quote above, the first thing that popped into my head was Uncle Ben’s advice to Peter from Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  Peter Parker, like the press, has been given special powers/rights and along with these rights comes “great responsibility.”  The press, as Haiman observes, has a unique right and power to write what they want and what they think is necessary.  While the press does have some legal issues encouraging them to be fair, they can get away with a lot.  However, if they abuse these rights they have been granted, the public will and does lose faith in them.  As the survey Haiman cites shows, 53% of Americans feel that the press has too much freedom.  News organizations have the responsibility to the public to be fair, if they’re not the public will become disillusioned with the news media and no longer trust them.  It’s a reciprocal relationship.  If reporters are fair, the public will trust them more and news organizations will make greater profits.  If reporters aren’t fair, no one will believe them.  News organizations have the responsibility to their readers, those they are reporting, and themselves to do their best to be fair and unbiased.  As I’ve pointed out many times, it’s impossible to be completely objective, but that doesn’t mean reporters can’t try to do their best—just as Spiderman can’t save everyone and bad things will happen sometimes, he still does his best to save as many people as he can.   

 

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6 Comments

I agree that news organizations need to be fair and unbiased for their own sake as much as the public's. We no longer live in a society where there is a limited amount of sources to get news from, and people have no choice but to get information from the few newspapers around. To a certain degree, it seems like journalism has an unlimited amount of power because of the fact that it is the primary way we can find out what's going on in the larger world. But when you think about the number of different ways people can learn about current events, from radio and TV to the myriad sources you can find on the Internet, it's clear that news outlets really have to stay on top of their game in order to maintain their readership. With so many different options, news organizations have to remain reputable and fair for their own survival if nothing else.

April Minerd said:

Great connection, Greta! My son loves Spiderman and the message is a good one. In my own entry, I discussed how public pressure is usually enough to enforce fairness in the news. If an audience perceives what they are getting as less than such, readership/viewership would decline. Your entry reminded me that everyone may not be capable of discerning bias or “unfairness” as readily as we now can, and so it is important that future journalists (as you say) take a note of responsibility from Spidey.

Wendy Scott said:

Gretta great connection! I agree with Matt we need to keep our news articles fair and unbiased. I think that the public seeks that and seeks revenge when they do not see it. I mean people like good material for gossip and the such but in reality they wnat fair information that is not going to hurt them. An I think the connection that you mention really relates to what Matt had to say with the readership we remeber things that we hear and see. Newspapers want you to rember what you read so being fair and unbiased can gain a newspaper that much possibly with accurate information. I think if newspapers want to survive they have to get to the point and provide material worth gossiping about and fair to the community so when gossip and talk starts it comes across as fair and inbiased infoormation.

Aja Hannah said:

Wasn't Peter Parker also a journalist? Forgive me if this is what his uncle was actually referring to (I haven't seen the movie in a while), but wow! the connection.

We're talking about Spiderman's famous quote in relation to the media when to him it was about his superpowers, but then it actually can refer to both in the movie!

Aja Hannah said:

Oh and I referenced you in my blog in case you wanted to know for portfolios.

Angela Palumbo said:

Greta, I'm proud of you...you came to the dark side (which is really the light side of Spiderman, Superman, and Batman). You have a point. A newspaper and it's writers need to walk a fine line. They need to deliver the news and be fair. If they aren't people'll lose faith and it's all over. Every superhero has their own take on this concept of misusing their power. I believe Spidy 3 had something to do with this. The Venom went around discrediting Spiderman's name. Smallville had the same thing going on when copycats put Jor El's symbol all over rescues that went awry. If you're going to put your name on something, it needs to be good. If it's not, people are going to lose faith. It's a delicate thing and it's hard to regain trust once it's lost.

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