Opinion: A tragedy is not a political issue


Designed by Amanda Clubb

These headlines showcase the various points of view on the Ohio train derailment.

Amanda Clubb, Writer

The role of media in American society has long been questioned. Today’s news outlets seem to each have their own agenda. The news they publish is meant to be convincing or persuasive, and the news that they do not publish seems to be left out for a reason. Because of this, many have questioned what the role of the media really is.

A recent example in the debate of the role of the media is the train derailment in Ohio. This incident took place on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio. The train was carrying combustible materials and chemicals, most notably vinyl chloride, a toxic gas. The media coverage of this event has caused a debate between political parties. 

News is not supposed to be convincing or persuasive. News is supposed to tell a factual story of relevant events. Knowledge of these events allows members of society to be informed enough to make their own opinions. Media should not form these opinions for the audience.

In journalism, there is a place for writers to share their beliefs, the opinion section. Opinion sections are a good thing. They allow writers to express their beliefs openly while notifying readers that a story is meant to be one-sided. However, modern media seems to be blurring the lines between the opinion section and the news section. 

The accident is objectively a big deal, so it is important that people are informed about it, regardless of political leaning. This is where the news industry failed. Many Americans did not feel informed enough about the event, which is the responsibility of the media. Sophomore Maddy Reese said, “Unless we do our own research on our own time, we really don’t know if what we see is what the media wants us to see or if that’s actually what is going on, all facts included.’’

Unless we do our own research on our own time, we really don’t know if what we see is what the media wants us to see or if that’s actually what is going on, all facts included.

— Maddy Reese

Some of the cable news outlets, such as Fox and CNN, have been under fire for coverage of the train derailment. Conservative political commentators claim that news outlets neglected to cover the derailment as it would reflect negatively on the current presidential administration. Liberal commentators claim that conservatives are blowing the incident out of proportion and the situation does not warrant the extensive media coverage they had called for. Liberal commentators are also calling out conservatives for using the accident as political ammunition. 

Despite the political controversy surrounding the media issue, it is not a political matter. It is a matter of transparency and what news truly is. News is information that is important for the public to know. If the media industry did its job properly, politics would not influence news coverage. Media should inform, not convince. If this principle is followed, it is not a political issue anymore. When news outlets work to report facts instead of opinions, politics can be removed from the industry. 

Media should inform the public, not try to convince them. A media industry that is centered around opinions and persuasion is a corrupt industry. It is the job of journalists at all levels to focus on facts rather than feelings. In an era when journalism is more important than ever, the media industry is continuously failing to do its job and inform Americans.