Journalism as a Force for Change

The ability of today’s media to influence opinion and coverage of events has led to the development of news as a weapon politically and in martial matters. Winston Churchill once remarked that “history is written by the victors”, and indeed the masses are often given accounts of events that lend an undeniable bias towards groups in power. While in America we have restrictions to keep the powerful from exercising too much influence over the news reporting process, there are many places where the news is based on the whim of a single person or group (although America is not entirely impervious to this effect).

While it is quite easy to find an example of reporting on an event (or string of events) that gives biased accounts to garner sympathy for/ reinforce the dominance of a powerful group, what truly stands out as exceptionally strong journalism is a piece that disregards conventions set in place by the powers that be to show a perspective from a source that is stigmatized. When the Greek city-states invaded Troy, despite their being a great many heroes on both sides, the Greeks won. In Homer’s accounts, King Agamemnon is still depicted as prideful, arrogant, and ambitious to a fault (although he led the Greek force). The virtuosity of Hector of Troy is preserved in history because of the accurate portrayal of his character, not because his nation’s historians were in charge of writing the history books (indeed, Troy was thought to have been a fictional place from legend until 1868) but because a reporter decided to give an accurate account of events. While this example assumes the validity of a real battle for Troy and disregards the validity of claims of divine intervention from a myriad of Greek deities, it remains a true example of how one single person telling one single story can change how the world remembers the past and envisions the future.

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