Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Recognizing Biased Media

The other day, I opened up the morning paper, which for me is the San Antonio Express News, as I do most mornings to read the front section. I mostly enjoy reading about the world news, but I also peruse over the political news, especially with the presidential elections coming up this fall. However, the other day, I was slightly disturbed by what I saw when I turned the pages of the paper over to find two pictures, one of Barack Obama and one of John McCain. Recently, the Express has begun each day to put in a picture of each of these men, recording what they did the previous day. 
One this particular day, the picture of Obama was typical. Having been sojourning across the world, speaking with various international leaders, Obama was pictured sitting with General Petraeus in a solemn manner, most likely discussing the policies and progress in Iraq. This seemed completely harmless, but the stark difference between this picture and the one of McCain is what I found to be so disturbing. The picture of McCain showed him riding in a golf cart with Bush Sn. On the cart, the sign read, "Hands off," indicating that it was not public property. The message was loud and clear. Surely, McCain had done many other things that day, including giving at least one speech. Surely the Express had another picture that would have sufficed. Yet they decided to publish a picture of McCain with Bush Sn. and a sign that read "hands off," both of which alienate him from the American public. Now I am certainly not a supporter of McCain, and this not because I am a hard core conservative either. Although I do not consider myself an Obama supporter either, I do tend to lean to taking his side on most issues. Still, when the media is so blatantly biased, something is wrong. 
If anyone is reading this right now, they may ask why I am spouting about this issue on the Internet instead of writing a letter to the editor. I could write a letter to the editor, but I do not feel that one mistake deserves a letter of reprimand. However, if this bias continues to occur, I will certainly take more direct action. For now, I simply desire to educate the readers as to what biased media is, so they may recognize it when it occurs, rather than being duped into believing everything journalists say or do. As a journalist myself, I can confidently say that it is not our goal to deceive. Rather, our goal is to bring truth to the public. However, even we fall prey to our own biased and may not realize this bias until someone else brings it to light. So do not be so harsh on journalists, but be aware that we do make mistakes. So please recognize our bias and bring this bias to light so that we can better reveal the truth.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Melting Pot or the Divided Country

Lately, I have heard more talk and signs of prejudice than I have in many years. Perhaps this is because I did not recognize the inuendoes when I was younger, but I now realize just how injurous and ignorant these comments can be. Being from Texas, I often hear people make derogatory remarks about Hispanics, but I have realized that this talk is not limited to any one group of people. In just over a month, I will be heading off to college, ready to begin an new part of my life. Because I am going out of state, I will know only one person when I arrive in the fall. However, instead of this being a challenge, I see it as an exciting opportunity. I have the ability to meet an extremely diverse array of people, different from anyone I have ever met before. When I see people of different cultures, I want to meet them and see how their background has shaped them into who they are today.
The other night, some friends and I went to Starbucks. Outside, a group of young Asians were playing some sort of card game as they spoke in a language neither of which I would probably ever be able to learn or understand. However, I was completely intrigued. I watched the way they interacted. They were intense in their game, but laughed and enjoyed each other's company at the same time. Unfortunately, my friends did not see their lifestyle in the same light as I did. They did not make any particularly degrading remarks; they did not have to. I could tell by the way they looked down on them, scared, disturbed, and confused by their actions and mannerisms. My friends made it clear that they desired to move as far away from them as possible. I was distraught. Here was an opportunity to learn about someone else; why they lived like they did and how it was to be an immigrant in America. After all, my brother currently rooms with an Asian student (even though he grew up in America, he does have some family connections abroad), and my brother has learned a great deal about other cultures through him.
Someone on National Public Radio (NPR) today mentioned that the US is no longer a melting pot. I had always been particularly fond of this term because it described how so many people could congregate and still get along. However, I began to think that this term was just an idealists' dream. Instead, we have become a divided nation, each ethnic group its own segregated people. I hope that soon, we can again become a true melting pot, learning from each other's differences, embracing our similarities. It takes one little step at a time. Be inquisitive, not derogatory. Be open-minded, not set in your own ways. In this way, we can become a united nation, rather than one divided because of its diversity.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Something is Wrong With Law Enforcement

     Although saying that there are problems with law enforcement in my city may appear to be a huge understatement to some people, it is, nevertheless, true. Last night, a few of my friends and I went to a local neighborhood park in to enjoy the cool night air. As we were swinging, we suddenly saw police lights flashing. A police had pulled a car over for speeding. After a few exchanging words of how sorry we felt for the "victim," we saw the car drive off. Subsequently, the policeman also pulled away, only to turn back and return to the spot where he was hiding, watching for other lawbreakers. 
     This scene may seem completely mundane for some, but I must explain a little further. The neighborhood road where the police was idling has a rather low speed limit considering the speed at which a car could safely drive. The speed limit, I believe, is about 30 mph, whereas, at night with no one on the streets, it would be perfectly safe to drive 45 to 50 mph, if the police were absent. In fact, I must admit, I myself have sped on this road multiple times. However, on this particular night, the police were on the hunt, stalking their prey, attempting to fill their hungry stomachs (aka ticket quotas). Not five minutes after the police re-parked, he pulled out, turned on his lights, and pulled over his next victim. If this was not bad enough, soon, another police drives down the street and pulls into the hiding spot where the other police had been previously. Only a few minutes later, while the first police is still handing out his ticket, the other police pulls over another car driving the other direction. 
     Maybe it is just me, but I can't help but think that there are better things that these policemen could be doing on a weeknight than pulling over car after car in a middle-class neighborhood. These headlines, which appeared that night and the next day, make me wonder where our policemen truly are during violent incidences: "Man shot in face in East-side complex" and "Boy riding on hood of mother's car critically injured in fall." I know the police cannot be everywhere all the time, but maybe they should pick their battles more wisely. So where were the policemen when the article about the man who was shot was being written and published? They were pulling over middle-class neighborhood residents for going ten miles over the speed limit. So which offense is more serious? Shooting a man or speeding when you are the only car on the road? Apparently, the police think it is the latter.