United States political analyst and White House commentator Jon-Christopher Bua came to the University of Maryland on Wednesday night to deliver a lecture about the media — emphasizing that while it plays a large role in delivering news, the public does, too.
“[Media] should be wherever it can be … but it’s driven by us,” Bua said. “We have to demand it.”
Bua told the roughly 25 people who came to this university’s Bahá’í Chair for World Peace program event that the public has the biggest responsibility in terms of consuming the news.
The talk was part of the event called “Capturing the Truth: Investigating the Role of Media in War & Peace” in Stamp Student Union’s Atrium.
Hoda Mahmoudi, a professor and chairwoman of the program, said the round table event was to ignite a conversation about how media relates to public opinion of worldly events and the importance of reporting the truth.
“The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace explores barriers to global peace and there are many, many barriers,” Mahmoudi said. “The issue is: What role and responsibility does the media have in providing correct and accurate reporting to the public?”
Bua said the media has three major responsibilities: to provide electoral forum, embody a public market for ideas and to serve as a public watchdog. But the public that consumes news must make the effort to stay informed and spread the news in any way possible, he said.
An important aspect to being informed, Bua said, is allowing people to broaden where they get their news from. This could decrease the negative impact of bias that comes with using the same news outlet to learn about what’s going on in the world, he said.
“How do you learn, how do you grow if you go to that one source every time?” Bua said. “Take every opportunity to not be satisfied with what you’re used to.”
Freshman Aayushi Shah, a government and politics major, said she believes people would think the media is biased because of the way people personalize it and take it to heart.
“We think we’re powerless, but really we’re not,” Shah said. “There [are] people like [activist] Malala [Yousafzai] in the world that were able to make such a big change. If people don’t go out [and do something], nothing’s going to change.”
Carla Abdo, a doctoral candidate in the government and politics department, said people often base their stance on news and content coming from popular news outlets, such as Fox and CNN.
“People tend to echo their own opinions based off of existing media sources,” Abdo said. “[They] set the frame for individual opinions and debate.”
Adbo also said there are several mechanisms and strategies for people to have a role in promoting the media, instead of just observing and accepting it. People can share and promote the news they think should be heard, she said.
“I tend to feel a sense of demoralization, of being dominated by large business networks as though they are impenetrable, when that’s not always true,” she said.
Bua stressed to the room that everyone is in the position to become a part of what news is taking place in the world. This can be done by tweeting out news to followers, writing about it and even offering opinions and tips to publications.
“I’m going to be more open to the idea of saying something,” Shah said after the lecture. “If I see something that’s wrong, I’ll feel the need to bring it up, because if I don’t, then who will?”