Hannah Medina

The Growth and Power of the Magic Bullet in the Media

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Since we were kids, we have grown up with expectations. Often these expectations were brought to us by the adults living in our households. Although for this next generation, it will no longer be just those voices children must learn to listen to.

With the explosion of social media and the entirety of the media industry involvement in our daily lives, it plays a major part in what we may be able to believe as truth. Only what seems like a few short years ago the news, and the world's journalism was known for a fact, whether it be good or bad. Nowadays, people are spent more time-consuming information and deciphering which may be correct or our new favorite term of fake news.

If I were to be critical of myself and my way of thinking, I would have to admit that this is a theory that I struggle not to assimilate with. It has become too easy to receive information, and through the electronic tracking that lives on our phones today, find yourself in a confirmation bias loop of information. As I have become more comfortable with the media circle and spending my time reviewing my sources, I have become less susceptible to possible magic bullets.

One of the most hot-topic examples that every one this day in age has now lived through is COVID-19. No matter which way you might have looked, there were opposing messages stating that they were entirely correct. The media had a field day with every story, being sure to expose whoever they felt did not fit into their narrative.

In 2017, there was a widespread issue in Nigeria where the efficacy of a vaccine was put into question, raising fear and suspicion. There was nothing wrong with the vaccine in place, but with there being a small outbreak in a nearby city, those who got the chance jumped at the opportunity to place blame without research or concern of repercussions.

As a final example, in 2016, it was rumored that President Barack Obama had ordered a ban on the pledge of allegiance in public schools. The website itself originally came from a source that claimed to be a version of ABC News. However, it was easy to understand that it had a satirical emphasis through many of its presentations. Much of the article posted was riddled with false and disconnected hyperlinks that, if followed, led to a quick understanding that the article in question was inaccurate. The problem faced with the spread of this article and its contents was that other reputable conservative websites picked it up. Through these supposedly legitimate sources, the story was re-reported as factual news.

It is most important to take everything with a grain of salt at the end of the day. I think given the right topic, anyone could be susceptible to the hypodermic needle theory, and that is enough reasoning to check everything twice. The media world will continue to grow; it is whether we are up to the challenge of being its fact-checkers.

“We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.” –Erik Qualman