Everything I learned about the press I learned from a musical

“The power of the press is the greatest power of them all. I tell the city how to think, I tell the city how to vote, I shape its future.”

So says newspaper owner Joseph Pulitzer to ragabond newsie Jack Kelly in the 1992 Disney musical Newsies.

I’m not going to lie — the first time I saw Newsies just under a week ago, all I concentrated on was the singing, dancing and cute boys. However, after becoming obsessed with the movie and watching it repeatedly, I can say that there is more worth to the movie than the critics gave it. It’s a poignant story based on the Newsboys Strike of 1899, although they probably portrayed the event as a lot easier and less violent than it actually was. But overall the message is this: No matter who writes the story, the press can always massively influence its audience.

Unfortunately, in today’s time, the press is doing a rather shoddy and embarrassing job of it. Instead of trying to get the basic facts and stories out to the public, papers and news stations focus on “hooking” the readers with a sensationalist lead story, stuffing the middle with many fluffy, opinionated pieces and then closing with another tantalizing lead for the next day’s most scandalous story. And when it comes to controversial issues like politics, most of the press no longer even tries to give a fair, unbiased opinion. It’s often incredibly easy to point out which publications are conservative or liberal, like Fox, which is famous for its right-wing-slanted news.

In a time where the common masses can’t trust politicians, celebrities or most famous people to tell the truth because they are constantly looking out for their own agendas, it’s a shame that the press has their own as well.

As a student journalist, I understand the importance of the First Amendment and being allowed to express your beliefs. However, when papers no longer try to get a balanced opinion out and present both sides of the argument, it’s a discredit to the institution as a whole. In most cases, it does nothing except leave the reader ignorant of the real issue because of the lack of explanation, or it causes distrust of any and all news sources to be reliable in providing the facts.

As a person who will be voting for the next president in approximately six and a half months, I would really like to actually know about all the problems and formulate my own opinions on them instead of having them force-fed to me. I’m sure the other millions of young voters would like to do the same because, as the rallying song of the Newsies says, “And the world will see / that we had to choose / that the things we do today will be tomorrow’s news. / And the old will fall / and the young will stand / and the time is now / and the winds will blow / and our ranks will grow and grow and grow.”